Brexit brings price uncertainty at Solex

Hedging currency has emerged as the big issue among garden centre products suppliers, with Solex garden furniture and barbecue suppliers showing concern about Brexit's effect on sterling against the dollar.

Some exhibitors at the show said prices are difficult to set because sterling has fallen so much since Brexit. Some were not giving prices to garden centre buyers, while others, who said they had bought ahead, or hedged, dollars, said they could keep to prices they planned at present.

Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association chairman Paul Bevington, of Kettler, said: "The impact, if any, of Brexit will not be until 2018. If you've hedged some dollars it will proably see you through 2017. As a business, we buy forward, no 100 per cent, but we aim to get 70 per cent of our expected supply bought forward, so the imapct will probably not be in 2017. I'm not saying every company is in the position to do that within LOFA but most will have done."

The outdoor living season has been compressed into May and early June, with sales dropping off after that because of the weather - and possibly Brexit concerns, said retailers, who, along with suppliers, hope that Brexit's impact on weakening the pound will have ended and levelled out by the Glee show in September.

Bosmere's Glynn Davis said there seems to be a general feeling at an exchange rate of 1.40-45 against the dollar could mean an increase in costs prices of around six per cent, which would have an impact but would not be "disastrous".

Glee director Matt Mein said there was "a lot of concern about Brexit" from suppliers, but he said the industry was resilient enough to cope. He said the September NEC show as 96 per cent sold.

Whitehall Garden Centre's Peter Self said: "Some suppliers have bought dollars and know where they are and some haven't. It's a mixed message. People that can guarantee price, we're more likely to deal with." He said buyers might buy earlier this year because of uncertainty of how prices might rise.

La Hacienda director Simon Goodwin said: "We do buy forward a little bit but probably not enough." He said the company prices September-September and would not usually issue price lists at Solex and that he hopes for "stability" before issuing a list at Glee. He said the potential impact across the industry on retail prices should be less than 10 per cent. Gardman suggested it could be up to 15 per cent last month.

See more in next issue of Horticulture Week.

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