A FAMILY-run commercial nursery near York has celebrated its strongest ever year of trading.

Johnsons of Whixley, which was founded almost 100 years ago, has seen its turnover rise to £14.3 million.

The company which has sites in Whixley, Cattal and Roecliffe, attributes its success to significant investment in both the workforce and on leading-edge equipment.

This has seen an increase in orders, with seven million plants sold, and almost 400 new customers on the books.

The Newlands and Roecliffe sites have undergone considerable expansion costing around £160,000, with a new poly tunnel to hold up to 60,000 plants and a 3,200 sq metre bed to accommodate a further 180,000 plants.

Earlier this year, the business invested £70,000 in a new retail line while 19 new employees have joined the team. Johnsons also produced its first group sales catalogue in a decade and launched a new-look website; it also made the top 100 list of York businesses for the third year.

To top it off, Johnsons was crowned Business of the Year at The Press Business Awards, and also took the Family Business of the Year title.

Group managing director Graham Richardson said the company was in a strong position heading into 2020. “This year has been very successful, with 17,000 invoiced orders and the despatch of approaching seven million trees and shrubs.As we look ahead to the coming year we aim to try and hold on to sales successes of this year – our budgets assume a small reduction in sales because of Brexit and the fact that our exposure to imported stock could hit us particularly hard in at least the first three months.

“We have already committed a lot of time and money to our Brexit plans, but as well as having no crystal ball, it is impossible to have any influence over the final outcome. However, our business is in a strong position to cope with a downturn or seize on new opportunities alike, so while the coming months remain unclear, we are confident that our recent successes will be maintained and in time surpassed.”

During 2019, Johnsons has supplied stock for high-profile residential schemes, retail developments, five-star hotels including Grantley Hall near Ripon, major infrastructure schemes, luxury holiday parks and more than £140,000 worth of plants for the £333m Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA). It has also donated plants worth around £15,000 to local schools and good causes, provided volunteers for York Cares, and donated plants and herbs worth £5,500 to Springwater, a special needs school in Harrogate, led to Johnsons being awarded a Big Build Award at this year’s Yorkshire Property Awards.

Recently, the company donated £5,000 towards the cost of restoring stained-glass windows for the local parish church, the Church of the Ascension in Whixley, which dates back to before the time of the Norman conquest.