Retail update

Vadoulis Garden Centre closure

Fletcher Building is understood to have launched the sale process for its plumbing supplies business Tradelink: report

Milton Vadoulis, owner of Vadoulis Garden Centre, recently announced on social media that his Gawler-based garden centre in South Australia is shutting down for good. In the Messenger-Eastern Courier, he said:

After 64 years, three generations and two sites, it is with a heavy heart and mixed emotions that I have to announce the closure of our Gawler operation.
I'd like to thank you, all our beautiful loyal customers, our fantastic staff and wonderful suppliers for a great journey and wonderful memories.
For me personally, after running the business for 47 years, it is time to hang up my secateurs.

Vadoulis Garden Centre has been in operation since 1960 and a fixture in the local community since 1969 after growing too large for its original Barossa location. The 4000sqm site is stocked with a range of plants, outdoor furniture, giftware, books and jewellery and has been staffed by a team of 15 full-time and casual workers.

The social media post received hundreds of likes since it went live, with customers and other businesses offering words of support and sharing their sadness at the community's loss. Amanda from Barrow and Bench Mitre 10 wrote:

You should be proud of the welcoming garden retail experience you created over many years Milton.

McCourts Garden Centre described Mr Vadoulis as "a leading light in our industry and inspired and mentored our business from when we started 26 years ago".

Mr Vadoulis is regarded as Gawler's unofficial mayor and said "red tape" behind the scenes of the business was becoming impossible to keep up with. He told the Messenger-Eastern Courier:

It's very difficult to run a business currently ... all businesses like myself, small businesses, not garden centres, we're always saying 'the red tape is killing us'. Everyone says, 'yeah, yeah, yeah' but then they keep putting more and more on us, it's just the reality.
It's just too hard, I think that we will be lucky to have a small business around in five years, because they're just putting too much compliance and red tape in front of us all the time.

Mr Vadoulis didn't dispute that rules relating to health and safety were important but said the vast difference between large businesses and small ones made it hard to cope. He said:

If you're a big multinational, you've got a department that can handle that, but you know, a small-business person is sitting around a kitchen table trying to sort all these papers.

Mr Vadoulis said many of his friends in business were experiencing the same difficulties, with some already closing and others considering the "emotional" choice.

I think in the next year, maybe even 18 months there is going to be a lot go through (closure), and there is many reasons for that, but the main one - it's just too hard. And it's a shame ... I mean we have been here 64 years, we're in the third generation.

Choosing to close affects owners, staff who lose their jobs as well as loyal customers. Mr Vadoulis said:

I've had customers coming in [since the announcement] and hugging me and crying every couple of minutes, saying 'Where am I going to go now?'
When I closed up last night, I walked through and shed a tear because it's what you've worked your whole life for - and it's disappearing before your eyes. Unfortunately, I doubt very much that another garden centre would take over from us in Gawler, who knows, but in my experience it won't happen.

The centre is running a closing-down sale and offering product discounts, while the cafe will continue to operate as usual until June 30.


It is understood information memorandums have been sent out by Miles Advisory which has been hired to sell the Tradelink business by New Zealand-based owner Fletcher Building, according to a report in The Australian.

Tradelink has over 100 showrooms and more than 230 branches across the country, supplying products such as vanities, bathrooms, toilets fixtures and fittings for bathrooms, kitchen and laundries.

It is valued at about NZD150 million, but some in the market say it could possibly sell for more, with such businesses selling for seven to eight times their annual earnings before interest and tax. Yet NZD122 million was wiped off its carrying value in February this year.

One prospect which could be pitched to prospective buyers is the opportunity to gain a distribution network where sites could be repurposed.

The view is that Metcash will take a look, with the business potentially a good fit with its hardware division including Total Tools and Mitre 10 stores. It is understood industry groups Reece and GWA have already passed on the Tradelink opportunity. But it is believed both trade groups and private equity firms have already expressed interest.


Tradelink up for sale - HNN Flash, April 2024
  • Sources: Messenger-Eastern Courier and The Australian
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