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Johnsons of Whixley, one of the UK’s leading commercial nurseries, has enjoyed its most successful year of trading since the company was founded almost 100 years ago.
North Yorkshire-based Johnsons, which has sites in Whixley, Cattal and Roecliffe, saw turnover rise to £14.3m – up more than two million on the original forecast – with almost 400 new customers on the books and seven million plants sold.
The company has invested significantly in both its equipment and workforce. The Newlands and Roecliffe sites have undergone considerable expansion works costing around £160,000, with a new poly tunnel to hold up to 60,000 plants at any one time and a 3,200 sq metre bed to accommodate a further 180,000 plants.
Earlier this year, the business invested £70,000 in a new retail line while 19 new employees have joined the team.
Johnsons of Whixley produced its first group sales catalogue in a decade and launched a new-look website; it also made the top 100 list of York businesses for the third year running.
During 2019, Johnsons of Whixley has supplied stock for several high-profile residential schemes, including a development of almost 1,000 concept apartments in Salford and Spinning Acres, a £40m collection of homes within a secluded conservation area in Leeds.
The company provided plants worth more than £140,000 for the multi-million pound Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA). The £333m development opened this year and includes an arena, conference halls, a multi-purpose space, hotels and more.
Other significant plant supplies have been to major infrastructure schemes along the A50 in Staffordshire and the A6 in Northern Ireland, and to amenities such as the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, Holyrood Palace and Hirst Park, Northumberland.
Johnsons also provided plants and trees for large retail developments such as Teeside Park, Thorpe Parke in Leeds and the Crown Retail Park in Glasgow, in addition to a UK-wide scheme to transform Costco petrol station sites.
Several five-star hotels had their gardens enhanced by Johnsons’ stock, including Grantley Hall near Ripon and the Dakota in Manchester, while the company provided the plants for a new gin garden at the exclusive Torredon Resort in the Scottish Highlands.
The company also increased its supply to luxury holiday parks throughout 2019, such as the award-winning Darwin Escapes Sandymouth family resort in North Cornwall, in addition to holiday villages in Kent, Norfolk, Somerset and the New Forest.
Earlier this year, Johnsons of Whixley provided trees and plants for the Mental Health Garden, an entry created by garden designer Jo Manfredi-Hamer that won a gold award at the prestigious Harrogate Spring Flower Show. The garden was designed to support mental health charity Leeds Mind.
The business has donated plants worth around £15,000 to local schools and good causes this year, including providing volunteers for the York Cares initiative, while a donation of plants and herbs worth £5,500 to Springwater, a special needs school in Harrogate, led to Johnsons being awarded a Big Build Award at this year’s Yorkshire Property Awards.
Recently, the company donated £5,000 towards the cost of restoring stained-glass windows for the local parish church, the Church of the Ascension in Whixley, which dates back to before the time of the Norman conquest.
In addition, Johnsons has been named Business of the Year and Family Business of the Year at the York Press Business Awards.
Group managing director Graham Richardson said the company was in a strong position heading into 2020: “This year has been very successful, with 17,000 invoiced orders and the despatch of approaching seven million trees and shrubs.
“As we look ahead to the coming year we aim to try and hold on to sales successes of this year – our budgets assume a small reduction in sales because of Brexit and the fact that our exposure to imported stock could hit us particularly hard in at least the first three months.
“We have already committed a lot of time and money to our Brexit plans, but as well as having no crystal ball, it is impossible to have any influence over the final outcome. However, our business is in a strong position to cope with a downturn or seize on new opportunities alike, so while the coming months remain unclear, we are confident that our recent successes will be maintained and in time surpassed.”