Wyevale ‘green malls’ planned for over 60s

Wyevale ‘green malls’ planned for over 60s

By James Hall

Last Updated: 10:52pm BST 30/05/2008

Sir Tom Hunter, the Scottish entrepreneur, plans to develop Wyevale Garden Centres into a chain of ‘green’ shopping malls for over-60s baby-boomers.

The Scottish retailer will develop the sites by building stores for third-party retailers on Wyevale’s land. The environmentally-friendly stores will be designed to woo the aging UK population, which Sir Tom believes is a largely untapped demographic.

Dr Dychtwald, whose books include Power Years: A User’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life and Age Power: How the 21st Century will be Ruled by the New Old, runs a company called Age Wave, which has also advised JP Morgan and PepsiCo.

Sir Tom’s radical plans for Wyevale, which has 124 stores and is the UK’s largest garden centre chain, comes in the wake of Tesco’s acquisition of Dobbies, Wyevale’s rival.

Earlier this month Sir Tom sold his 29.2pc stake in Dobbies to Tesco after he failed to block a rights issue at the company. Scotland-based Dobbies is raising £150m in new equity to help fund an expansion across the UK that will pit it against Wyevale.

Sir Tom said that Wyevale is ripe for development. “Development is absolutely one the factors why we bought Wyevale. We were able to buy the freehold of properties along with the operating business of the garden centres, which is a model that we like. We like to buy freehold assets,” he said.

“We’re looking at every site because every site is different. There are exciting development opportunities out there.

Sir Tom said Bicester Avenue in Oxfordshire, where Wyevale anchors a garden centre and retail park, is the blueprint of what he wants to achieve.

“When we look at garden centres we want to make destinations – building developments for other retailers to come and join us,” he said.

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