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Gloucestershire garden products business sees lockdown sales soar

Gloucestershire-based garden products retailer Wildlife World has seen a 400 per cent increase in online sales compared to this time last year, after securing a six-figure loan from Lloyds Bank.

Norman Sellers

The Tetbury business initially experienced a sudden downturn in orders when garden centres were forced to close their doors in March and had to furlough almost half of its 25-strong team.

However, the loan from Lloyds Bank, made through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), has enabled the retailer to develop its website to facilitate the increase in online transactions and continue to design and buy new products while income temporarily slowed.

Wildlife World is the UK's leading retailer of wildlife-friendly garden products, and supplies the likes of Marks & Spencer, ALDI, Waterstones, the National Trust and the RSPB. It also exports to 21 countries, including Germany, Sweden and the US. Its most popular products include bumblebee nesters, bird feeders and frog and toad houses.

Managing director Norman Sellers, who founded Wildlife World in 1998, says the support from Lloyds Bank was key to keeping the production line going, but attributes the significant spike in orders to a shift in the British public's environmental outlook as a result of Covid-19.

He said: "Unsurprisingly, lockdown has meant those of us lucky enough to have a garden have spent more time there, and a by-product of being at one with nature is caring more about and wanting to attract more wildlife."

Wildlife World's current annual turnover is £3.8million and the business has been a customer of Lloyds Bank since 2014.

Norman Sellers added: "Lockdown could have signalled a major problem for us, but Lloyds Bank's support and backing gave us the confidence that we could weather the initial storm and get back to trading at even higher levels than before. Being able to retain our design team throughout has helped to secure our future, which is now looking rosy again, and we're bringing our furloughed staff back to join them."

Rupert Harris, relationship director at Lloyds Bank, added: "Norman and the team at Wildlife World moved quickly to seek additional support, and to pivot operations to give the business a greater focus on ecommerce. This has led to sales skyrocketing and hopefully there's more good weather to come this summer so people can enjoy their new garden products.

"We will continue to be by the side of businesses across the UK to help them emerge from the pandemic in as strong a position as possible."

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