'Broad offer' behind Hillier buy

A broad offer is important to landscape customers who have limited time, says Hillier Nurseries.

Hillier Nurseries: firm boasts access to unlimited range of tree sizes
Hillier Nurseries: firm boasts access to unlimited range of tree sizes

Being a one-stop cash-and-carry is increasingly important to landscapers, though it can create more work for growers, according to Hillier Nurseries director Hossein Arshadi, who has bought the nearby Holmes Nursery business in Hampshire.

Having a broad offer is: "Very important to the consumer and maybe difficult for the nurseries, but the customers have limited time and if they have to go to a couple of nurseries it's all time - if there's no financial disadvantage, which there isn't because we're selling product at the same price as them.

"One call or email and they collect or we deliver. It's good for us as it's more business but we have to carry a wider range, which is an advantage and a disadvantage."

Arshadi said Holmes Nurseries was offered to Hillier by owner Colin Holmes and Hillier saw the advantages of adding the Holmes offer to its own. "They have a £1m business not far from us in Winchester and my aim was to take the competition away and tap into its customer base. Some overlaps but now there is one less around. The purchase gives us an unlimited range of tree sizes," said Arshadi.

"He traded a lot with his strength being a lot of hedging and trading a full package. He did a good selection of compost, bark and topsoil. Using two companies is a far more attractive package for the consumer."

Hillier is currently trading bark under Holmes's brand and Hillier will take over completely when Holmes stops that in a few months.

Arshadi said native trees are selling more. Betula pendula, Quercus robur, Alnus glutinosa and Tillia cordata have all seen sales rise, with Betula pendula now selling more than Betula jacquemontii for landscaping.

He added that local authorities are using more Pyrus chanticleer as street trees but Hillier has long stopped growing some trees, such as horse chestnut and Robinia frisia, because of disease issues. However, it sells up to 30 a year bought from other reputable nurseries, if they are specified.

Hedging Centre New concept to improve sales in garden centres

Hillier is offering new marketing approaches that aim to sell more mature hedging in garden centres. This is intended to replace the traditional bare-root seedlings sold online in bundles with more instant impact.

Managing director Andy McIndoe explained: "The Hillier Hedging Centre is a new concept for garden sales aimed at expanding hardy nursery stock sales from autumn through to spring. The package comes with robust metal frames to hold banners - it's big and bold.

He added: "Let's make hedges happen and make gardens greener. Don't just offer a few tired hedging plants this season - make hedging an important category on your planteria."

The concept includes new labels, banners and 24 evergreen hedging varieties as well as editorial and images that can be used on websites.


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