Cheap plant prices trigger industry warning

Plant prices are too low, Killingley soft landscape director Simon Ellis has warned.

"Plant prices are lower than I've ever known them," said the former Crowders managing director. "There's not the demand for product across the whole of the UK and supply is outstripping demand at the moment.

"Prices are lower than 20 years ago. Hawthorn is 10p, which is unheard of. It's going back to the late 1970s before that price was around."

Lonicera 'Maygreen' is available at a "shocking" 80-90p, he said. Landscapers do not want to see such cheap prices because it "drives everyone's margin down".

Following Mahoods going into liquidation and John Woods undergoing a CVA in November, Ellis said: "It's not sustainable and I'm expecting one or two more nurseries to suffer."

He added: "For a lot of people, coming out of the recession is the most difficult time because you need cash and lot of people now are starved of cash. Look at the history books - this is when lots of people go bust.

"The banks are not lending and we have tough years ahead. Lots of nurseries are quite heavily borrowed. Contractors can downsize to their management team but nurseries have to invest every year. Landscape contractors are more nimble on their feet than nurseries."

Ellis added: "It's a very competitive marketplace and there's definitely two economies going on here. The north is still struggling."


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