Curtis-Machin told Horticulture Week the HTA supports this idea "because we cannot foresee exactly what the impact will be on businesses at this stage." He added that, because of the NLW, there is a "growing realisation" among businesses that they will have to look at their employment structures and the way that staff are employed.
The HTA is looking at ways in which it can help its members to adapt to the NLW, a compulsory £7.20 an hour for all working people aged 25 and over from April 2016.
The HTA believes that a relaxation in Sunday trading restrictions could help ease some of the pressure on businesses. In its response to a Government consultation on Sunday trading rules last month, the HTA pointed out that by allowing garden centres to trade for longer on a Sunday members would make significant productivity gains and increase sales.
However, not all garden centre traders agree. Phil Stevenson of the independent, family-run Charlton Park Garden Centre in Wantage said: "It will not help at all. It's a backwards step. We need to keep that (current Sunday trading restrictions) because not everyone will be able to afford it. Only the larger companies will be able to afford to do it."
Stevenson added that while the introduction of the NLW is good from a moral standpoint, the horticulture industry "will either suffer more than some other industries or we will have to change - automate. That means fewer people on the shop floor, fewer independents and more of the multinationals. You will lose jobs in the lower skills brackets and these people will find that they can no longer get the work, so the NLW will affect the very people it's trying to help."