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Administrators confirm job losses at John Woods Nurseries

PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 November 2015

Part of the John Woods Nurseries site at Pettistree, near Woodbridge.

Part of the John Woods Nurseries site at Pettistree, near Woodbridge.

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Nearly 20 people are understood to have been made redundant when John Woods Nurseries went into administration earlier this month.

The company, based at Pettistree, near Woodbridge, was one of the UK’s leading suppliers of plants for retail garden centres, with its collection of some species being regarded as of national importance.

A spokesman for joint administrators Jamie Taylor and Lloyd Biscoe, from the Southend-on-Sea office of insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor, confirmed yesterday that all members of staff at John Woods had been made redundant.

Although the spokesman was unable to confirm the number of employees involved, the EADT understands that the total was around 18.

The spokesman said that John Woods Nurseries had entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement with its creditors in November last year but the payment terms agreed, £10,000 a month for the first six months and then rising to £20,000 a month, had proved unsustainable.

As a result the company had accrued further arrears to creditors, including its landlord, and this had resulted in its lease on the Pettistree site being forfeited, with control reverting to the landlord, the spokesman added.

John Woods Nurseries was originally formed in 1837 and was acquired in 1897 by RC Notcutt, whose family business developed into what is now the Notcutts garden centres chain.

The John Woods name was revived in 2007 when Notcutts Nurseries was acquired from the group by a management buyout team, led by managing director John Lord.

The Pettistree site is owned by William Notcutt, formerly managing director and deputy chairman of Notcutts, who left the garden centres business in 2011 to run his own agricultural estates business.

Mr Notcutt said that he had hired a small number of former John Woods employees to decommission the site and, in parallel, a process had begun to find new tenants.

In view of the size of the site it was unlikely that a single business would take on the entire area, said Mr Notcutt, but it was possible that perhaps two or three different nursery businesses would be interested in taking on some of the land.

“It is a nursey site and so it makes sense to consider that use first,” he added. “It would be good to have some activity on the site which provides work for some of the ex-employees.”

Chartered surveyors firm Eddisons has been appointed to run an online auction of container-grown trees, shrubs and other plants from John Woods, starting on Tuesday, November 24. The lots will be available to view at the site the previous day, between 10am and 4pm.

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