LONG-established Dorset business Haskins Gardens Centre has bought a trio of sites including a tourist attraction that draws more than 100,000 visitors a year.

Haskins has acquired Birdworld in Farnham, Surrey, along with neighbouring Forest Lodge Garden Centre and Garden Style.

The deal is part of a long-term plan to expand its group of four sites in the south.

Ferndown-based Haskins said it had been looking for the right business in the right location for “a number of years” before reaching the deal with Denys E Head Ltd.

Haskins chairman Warren Haskins said: “We have long admired Forest Lodge, Garden Style and Birdworld and are delighted to welcome the businesses and its teams to the Haskins group.

“We have created a great culture within Haskins and have worked hard to develop a long-term plan for all our sites, with a view of remaining a family-owned, independent business. We are pleased to have held out for the right opportunity and believe that Forest Lodge, Garden Style and Birdworld will be a good cultural fit and will help support our future strategy.”

Birdworld is one of the largest independent tourist attractions in the south east and has been a popular destination for 50 years.

Spread over 23 acres with its own catering and shops, it draws more than 100,000 visitors to its bird park, gardens and aquarium, and has an extensive conservation and breeding programme.

Mr Haskins said: “As a business we have a lot to learn about Birdworld but already see it as an essential element of the long-term plan for the site.”

Roger Head, managing director of Denys E Head, said: “After setting up the business with my parents 40 years ago, we have had an incredible journey and I feel that it is now the right time to retire and therefore sell the business.

“I have known Warren Haskins throughout this period and believe the Haskins business to be the perfect custodian to continue to develop Forest Lodge, Garden Style and Birdworld. I am very proud of the business and the team of people who have contributed so much to our success and I have worked hard to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible for the team and our customers.”

Forest Lodge is an award-winning garden centre and retail offering on a 6.8-acre site, with a 300-seat restaurant. The business is located three miles south west of Farnham, off the A325.

The site also incorporates the retail and wholesale business, Garden Style Plant Centre, on a further three acres. Haskins says there are opportunities to develop the facility.

Haskins has centres in Ferndown, West End in Southampton and, Roundstone and Snowhill in West Sussex. Haskins Snowhill is currently closed to carry out the final phase of the centre’s redevelopment plan, ahead of re-opening for business in the spring.