Garden centre including Birdworld and Forest Lodge changes hands in Farnham, Surrey

Denys E Head Ltd, advised jointly by Savills and Gilbert Evans, has sold the entire issued share capital of its business to Haskins Garden Centres Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

The company comprises award winning garden centre Forest Lodge, well known visitor attraction Birdworld and Garden Style Plant Centre, three well established enterprises which occupy an extensive freehold site situated to the south west of Farnham in Surrey.

Denys E Head Ltd was founded by the vendor’s father in 1958 as a firm of market gardeners. In 1980 following a successful period of growth the company relocated from their original premises in Godalming to the current Forest Lodge site, which was comprehensively redeveloped before opening as a purpose built garden centre in 1981. The company subsequently acquired the neighbouring wildlife park known as Birdworld, which had been open to the public since 1968, and in 2017 the specimen plant business Garden Style was relocated to an area adjoining Forest Lodge Garden Centre, which enabled all three businesses to be run as one integrated entity.

In 2018 planning permission was obtained for the extensive phased development of the property and business, including provision of a new Birdworld visitor centre and family entertainment building, a significantly enlarged garden centre, six residential dwellings and a new single access, which provides the potential for the business to continue its development as one of the largest combined retail and leisure attractions in the south east.

Ian Simpson, director in the leisure & trade related team at Savills, comments: “The sale of this well-established family run business provided the purchaser with an opportunity to acquire a popular combined garden centre and visitor attraction in a good location. Due to the nature of the site there is little competition and coupled with excellent visitor numbers, this makes it both a rare and strong income producing asset. We are very pleased to have been able assist our client with the sale of such a valuable and much loved company.”

Mike Gilbert, head of Gilbert Evans’ specialist garden centre advisory team, adds: “We received very strong interest for the business. We were delighted to secure a deal with Haskins – a family run company that will ensure this very successful and highly regarded business can be taken to the next stage.”