The former owner of a popular Horsham garden centre which has been sold to a national chain has spoken about his ‘incredible’ experience running the business.
Nigel Wait took over Newbridge Nurseries at Broadbridge Heath 20 years ago and has spent the past two decades growing the business into one of the country’s ‘most successful garden centres’.
Mr Wait has overseen many changes to the nursery including the creation of the popular restaurant Stooks as well as picking up numerous awards.
But after two decades of work at the centre Mr Wait has decided to give up the business and last month sold the nursery to national garden centre chain Blue Diamond.
The purchase includes both the garden centre and Stooks Cafe. The sale price has not been disclosed.
Mr Wait said this week: “We purchased Newbridge Nurseries in 1995 from the Jobson family, as a very small run down nursery and have turned it into one of the most successful garden centres in the country.
“Numerous Garden Centre Association awards over the last two years are a testament of this success and only this month we were named National Plant Retailer by the Horticultural Industry in conjunction with the Sun newspaper which was voted for by our customers.
“The last 20 years have been an incredible experience for us and we have enjoyed immensely building up the business which now employs a total of 75 staff in Newbridge and Stooks.
“The addition of the restaurant, Stooks, three years ago, set up by Jane, meant that she also gave full time commitment to the business. Stooks broke the boundaries of a normal garden centre restaurant with its offering of a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean inspired menu, appetising and seasonal salads - in the summer months using home grown vegetables - and home made patisserie creating a real passion for foodies far and wide.
“What better time to leave when both businesses have just had their best year ever.
“We were both delighted when Alan Roper and his company Blue Diamond made us an offer as we knew Alan’s passion for high quality plants and a restaurant set apart from the norm would mean that Newbridge Nurseries and Stooks would continue to develop in a manner that both our customers and staff would wish.
“We both look forward to returning as frequent customers now we have time for our own garden and see the many fantastic members of staff and customers who have helped make Newbridge and Stooks the success it is today.”
Alan Roper, managing director at Blue Diamond, said he was very excited to be taking over the nursery and hoped he could continue the centre’s success.
He said: “I am excited about the opportunity. We were very impressed with the plant area at the centre and what they offer, it is something we think is very important and they have done a brilliant job with this. We were also very interested in Stooks Cafe and the success it has had over the years.
“But we want to ensure that we retain the centre’s identity and all the things that made Newbridge successful.
“We are not going to go in and change everything. I like to think our centres are a group of individuals rather than a group of garden centres that are the same.”
Mr Roper added no jobs have been affected by the sale and relationships with suppliers will continue to remain the same.