Jobs at risk at struggling garden firm

Administrators for a struggling garden and leisure goods supply company today said they were hopeful of securing new buyers for the firm.

Solus Garden & Leisure has called in administrators
Solus Garden & Leisure has called in administrators

Solus Garden & Leisure has brought in administrators PwC after admitting they were struggling to get investment.

Talks are under way with staff at the company's headquarters in Hunnington, near Halesowen, over the plight of the company.

The firm also operates from locations in West Bromwich and Tipton.

It puts 63 jobs at risk in Hunnington, 16 in West Bromwich and three in Tipton.

A further 90 positions are at the company's location in Droitwich while 78 people are employed elsewhere in the country.

Rob Hunt and Tony Barrell of PwC have been appointed joint administrators of the firm.

They said the 'immediate priority' was talks with staff, key customers and suppliers with the aim of continuing to trade in the near future.

Mr Barrell said: "We believe this is achievable.

"We are pleased to confirm employees will be paid for work done prior to our appointment and while they continue to work."

He added there were already a number of parties interested in buying the business.

"We are hopeful of securing a sale."

Administrators said the company, a leading supplier of wholesale garden and leisure products, had started seeking additional investment late last year due to difficult trading conditions.

The firm's directors were in discussions for some weeks with a range of parties to try and secure the investment. However while interest was show in the business, no offers had provided a possible outcome leading to directors deciding to place the company into administration.

The company also has 17 staff based in Edinburgh, 36 in Norwich and 25 which are mobile.

It reported a turnover of £29.3million in the six months to 30 March 2014.

Alongside wholesaling third party products, the company also has a portfolio of well-known brands including Yeoman, Joseph Bentley, ChapelWood, Garden Nation, Botanico and Bermuda.

A note placed on the company's website reads that Mr Hunt and Mr Barrell have been appointed as joint administrators of the firm to 'manage its affairs, business and property as its agents'.

The firm was first established more than 30 years ago when the garden centre industry was still in its early stages.

It originally traded as Gibbs Palmer (Midlands) Ltd and soon became one of the industries leading distributors of garden and leisure goods.

It introduced its first brand, Yeoman, in October 1991 and has been one of the main supplier of key brands to many garden and leisure retailers across the UK and overseas.

The company has specialised in tool and grow your own kits alongside garden furniture and equipment such as water pumps and bird feeders.