Dobbies Garden Centres has a fascinating history which goes back to 1865 when the company
was founded in Renfrew, Scotland by James Dobbie. You can find out more about Dobbies Garden
Centres at the bottom of this
Immediately below is a list of all the the Dobbies Garden Centres in the UK. Those which are
underlined have been reviewed by us in detail. We visited the garden centres and
took pictures for the reviews.
We also describe the facilities available at each of the Dobbies Garden Centres and
comment on the food served at each of the cafes. Every review is totally independent and is
the result of our visit to the garden centre.
Click on any link below to see our review of a particular Dobbies Garden Centre with star
ratings for the plants, the indoor sales area, the cafe and an overall rating.
DOBBIES GARDEN CENTRES IN SCOTLAND
DOBBIES GARDEN CENTRES IN ENGLAND
Dobbies Garden Centres' History
The founder of Dobbies Garden Centres was James Dobbie, born in 1817. Gardening was a
hobby he enjoyed to the full, being the star of several gardening shows. In 1865, James
decided to give up his normal job and turn his hobby into a business. He was enthused to do
this in 1865 when he produced a pound in weight of seeds from a leek he had grown. He
marketed the seed under the name "Dobbies Champion" and settled into seed production
business full time.
In 1887 James Dobbie, now at the grand old age of 70, sold the business to his younger
partner, William Cuthbertson. The name of the business from this point on was to be Dobbie
&Co. Strange that the name of the founder only became the trading name after it was sold!
James Dobbie died in 1905, eleven years after the company was granted a royal warrant.
Dobbie Garden Centres continued to grow and in 1934 expanded into new premises at Melville near
Edinburgh. It continued to operate primarily as a nursery, breeding new varieties of seed
until 1984 when the company was purchased by David Barnes, then managing Director of the
Surrey based horticultural company, Waterers.
It was at this stage that Dobbies moved into the garden centre business, opening five new
garden centres in Scotland by 1989. Further injections of capital and the floating of the
company on the Stock Exchange in 1997 led Dobbies down the road of taking over existing
garden centres in England and Scotland.
In 2007 the Chesterfield branch of Dobbies was opened which was a combination of garden
centre and shopping mall. This combination appears to be way that Dobbies are going in the
future and the formula has still yet to stand the test of time.
In 2007, Dobbies Garden Centres was effectively taken over by the massive supermarket, Tesco. This has
resulted in a further massive injection of capital (�150 million) which should ensure its future for many
years to come.
The Takeover of Dobbies Garden Centres was not a simple matter. By May 2008, the
entrepreneur Tom Hunter, who also had a controlling interest in Wyevale, had built up a
29.2% share in Dobbies. The presumption is that he wished to take over Dobbies Garden
Centres or, at least, prevent Tesco from taking it over.
Previously, Tom Hunter had rejected a �15 per share offer from Tesco. On 22 May 2008 he
accepted a lower offer of �12 per share when Dobbies threatened to issue a �150 million
rights issue. This would have forced Tom Hunter to raise �44 million in order to
maintain his % shareholding at the time. He decided not to do this and sold his Dobbies
Garden Centres shares instead.
Is the change from traditional nursery to massive shopping centre tacked onto a garden
centre a change for the good? You be the judge. We have our review of the
Aberdeen branch of Dobbies. It is still
very much a traditional garden centre. Compare that to our review of the
Chesterfield branch and make up your
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