Are you concerned about the economic outlook?

YES "A lot of our product goes into the new-build house market. There are problems in that sector now because they've been building them and there's been demand for them and now no one can afford to buy them.

"I don't know if that will have an impact on other areas of the market. But the commercial landscaping market may be more robust.

"I'm optimistic that we're going to have a good spring but think business may be affected as we go into autumn. I think it could slow down but it could hit commercial landscape later on."

- Nick Coslett, marketing and sales manager, Palmstead Nurseries

YES

"I have no doubt 2008 is going to be tough, but then we've had several tough years. But we are more weather-affected than economy-affected.

"There will be high oil and commodity prices, but I'm sure that if people focus on what they are good at and offer good customer service then they will still show growth. Customer service makes all the difference because you can get people coming back and increasing their footfall.

"There will be further interest cuts and that should filter through. It's going to be tough but I'm optimistic that sales will come."

- Caroline Owen, chairman, HTA retail management group

NO

"The lower end of the market, for example, domestic jobs of up to £10,000, could slow down quite a lot because of the housing worries.

"Borough councils, which tackle parks and open spaces, may also cut down on landscaping, which is seen as a bit of a luxury. But most of our work is for county councils, and a lot of landscaping for schools and highways is seen as necessary.

"We won't have a rip-roaring year, but it shouldn't be too bad. Budgets have been cut steadily for three or four years and they can't be cut much further."

- Richard Gardiner, managing director, Norris & Gardiner

YES AND NO

"It will get tougher and retail will be hit hardest because of the crunch on credit.

"But it's not all doom, as many people who want landscaping have the money to pay for it.

"Cheaper and quicker manufacturing will mean production will have to be cut and this will have knock-on effects for us all.

"One good thing is re-using waste and recycling, which is where firms can make massive savings on reduced landfill and recycling plastic. Companies like ours are making dramatic savings and should continue to do so throughout 2008."

- Norman Hambrook, managing director, Hambrooks.


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