British Plant Fair preview - Fair springs to life to help buyers stock up

Bank holidays and good weather should make the British Plant Fair a success, says Gemma Mackenzie.

British Plant Fair organisers are putting all their efforts into a bumper spring show, with hopes that the aftermath of the cold winter and the upcoming run of bank holidays will result in strong sales for growers.

Show organiser Geoff Caesar, of the Bransford Webbs Plant Company, says: "At the moment we are planning on doing just one show this year, rather than in the previous years where we were running two to three shows a year.

"We want to give all the focus to the spring one because it has tended to yield the best result - it's the one where people come along to buy and, particularly after a cold winter, there's a lot of centres that have not fully stocked up, so this is a good opportunity for them."

On the origins of the show, he adds: "The whole concept started years back in a warehouse in Pershore where we wanted a fair, not a show. Shows are more strategic and tend to happen in the second half of the year, but we wanted an event where most of the stock is on trolleys and it's about selling plants - all the orders placed on the day of the show get delivered the following week."

A popular element of the show is the Market Place, where retailers are able to buy shelves rather than full trolleys of plants, with orders being processed and facilitated by Bransford Webbs.

Caesar explains: "We have set up an order-processing facility where people place their orders centrally and we then consolidate these and arrange for deliveries - customers will be able to order by the shelf with one delivery and one invoice."

Exhibitor Steven Lee of New Place Nurseries says: "I'm looking forward to the show and I hope that the buyers come out and back Geoff's efforts because he has done a lot of hard work.

"I enjoy the interaction with the people, but the weather has a huge impact. The timing of this year's show is better because they have moved it back."

Of the Market Place element, he says: "For the end user it's ideal because they can wander around and have a shelf of whatever they want and it's all collated by Bransford Webbs."

Wyevale Nurseries garden centre sales manager Colin Stanley says he is looking forward to the show and feeling optimistic about the season.

"It's all about the weather - everyone is being very careful because they don't want to take stock in and have the bad weather come back - but I would think that by March it's going to be a good show," he adds.

The fair coincides with an open week at Bransford Webbs, allowing visitors to spend half a day meeting growers and placing orders and half a day touring the nursery facilities.

On expectations for the event, Caesar says: "With 30 exhibitors taking on 38 stands, we expect it to be a busy marketplace and this year's spring fair will be a fantastic opportunity for retailers to stock up on a vast range of top-quality British stock, from shrubs to planted containers and bedding to orchids.

"It certainly creates a bit of a buzz, particularly for the growers in the Midlands, and the response so far looks really positive."


Where: Exhibition Hall 1, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire CV8 2LZ

When: 3 March, 10am-3pm


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