Discount retailers cause tough market conditions

The garden retail market continues to get harder because of increased competition from discount retailers, Fresh@Burcot owner and former Garden Industry Manufacturers Association director Neil Gow has said.

"It gets tougher for garden centres as more and more outlets are selling gardening products," he explained. "Supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi are cherry-picking lines at key times and are happy to make 30 per cent margin on a plant compared to 10 per cent margin on food. They don't do the range, they just cherry-pick, and that affects things like red poinsettia sales as they sell them at silly money. We can sell more of the other colours but not the volume reds to help bolster our margin.

"The supply end of the industry has to think about that as well. They may be making money out of supplying Lidl but if they are not supporting their traditional customers they will not have a customer eventually. We will continue to see consolidation at both retail and supply end - for instance, Tildenet taking over Bosmere - and I suspect we will see more of that before long."

Lidl now turns over £4bn in the UK, while Aldi's turnover is more than £5bn. Among other high street discounters, B&M Bargains now turns over £930m and there are more than 80 garden centres incorporated in the group's stores.

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