Hunter in bed with Blooms

The consortium that bought out Wyevale Gardens Centres has secured the purchase of smaller rival Blooms.

Sir Tom Hunter has increased his exposure to garden centres after his offer of 86.5p a share for Blooms of Bressingham was recommended by the board. That values the company, which runs 10 sites, at £30.2m (US$59m).

Last June, Hunter, together with Baugur, HBOS and Prestbury, took control of Wyevale Garden Centres in a £445.1m (US$795m) deal. PricewaterhouseCoopers advised the consortium on both transactions.

Paul Davidson, a partner in Hunter’s West Coast Capital private equity vehicle said: “We indicated at the time of the acquisition of Wyevale the consortium’s strategy to invest in and grow Wyevale’s garden centre business. Blooms is a particularly attractive business in the sector and there are obvious cost and revenue synergies with the Wyevale business.”

The Blooms deal was struck at a 23.8% premium to the shares’ average closing price for the six months prior to the announcement of the offer on January 15. Irrevocable undertakings to accept the bid have been received from shareholders representing 37.6% of the share capital.

Charles Good, chairman of Blooms, said: “The garden centre sector is going through a period of accelerating change where there are clear benefits from joining forces.”

Teather & Greenwood advised Blooms.

Hunter also has an 8% stake in AIM-listed Dobbies Garden Centres and a 29.9% holding in Flying Brands, which owns a florist in Jersey among other businesses.