SCOTTISH garden centre group Klondyke has underlined its growth ambitions after recording a 20 per cent increase in profits in the latest period.

The latest accounts for the family-owned group show Klondyke made £5.9 million profit before tax in the year to 30 September compared with £4.8m in the preceding year.

Turnover increased around 6% annually to £54.5m at the group, which operates five centres in Scotland and 17 in England and Wales.

Directors noted the economic backdrop is challenging. Consumer spending has been under pressure amid sluggish growth in wages.

However, they reckon the company is following an effective strategy in a sector with good growth prospects.

“Garden centres are well positioned to offer a unique retail offer that high street and big box retailers struggle to match,” wrote directors in the accounts.

Polmont-based Klondyke has developed centres selling a range of products besides plants, with restaurants to help persuade people to spend time in the centres all year round.

“Investment in better facilities leads to customers being able to shop in our stores no matter what the weather and the enhanced product offer makes us less reliant on just the sales of our garden products,” noted directors.

They added: “We will look at potential acquisitions that are offered.”

The main project for the current year is the redevelopment of the centre at Mortonhall in Edinburgh, which will include adding more retail space, a new restaurant and extra car parking. This is due to be completed in July.

The upgrade of the Polmont centre will follow.

The business was started by former market trader Bob Gault and his wife Dorothy in a greenhouse in Kirkintilloch in 1980.

Klondyke made a big move into the English market in 1996 when it merged with the William Strike business.

Mr Gault died in 2011.

The average monthly number of employees increased to 951 in the latest year from 883.

Dry spring weather drove strong plant sales in the main trading season covering the six months to the end of June. Summer was wetter but restaurant sales remained excellent.