How is the downturn affecting landscaping firms?

We asked managers from a range of landscaping firms for their views on the effects of the credit crunch.

Neil Huck, senior contracts manager, Ground Control - photo: HW
Neil Huck, senior contracts manager, Ground Control - photo: HW

- "It is a tough market. But our installer order books are at nine weeks, so that shows that people will spend. More 50-pluses, whose parents may have died and who don't have a big mortgage - retirees often - have got cash.

"So our installers have nine weeks worth of work on their books, which is not down on last year. Spending is still there for certain age groups." - Jeremy Swallow, commercial PR manager, Marshalls

- "Financially it's got a lot tighter. We've not experienced the late payments we have this August for several years. Enquiries have dipped but are picking up now. We're being very competitive and are working on large, domestic country-house projects. We avoid new-build landscaping like the plague. Developers quibble over everything.

"There are multimillion-pound sites and £100,000-plus refurbishments still about, and we are getting invited to do them. The top end of the market is holding up. People aren't moving." - Joe Watson, director, Cotswold Estates Services

- "The bottom end of the market is starting to suffer in our sector. To some degree it has been slightly scaled back, but people are not going to stop spending money at the top end.

"Although the bottom of the market is suffering, we're above the cloudline. However, a lot of big projects have been put on hold." - Mark Gregory, director, Landform Consultants

- "For landscaping around housing projects I've heard that order books have been slashed, with developers struggling to sell the properties. I don't know which way it's going to go. But one company I know lost 60 per cent of its order book for next year. People who were doing housing development work are having to go back to domestic work.

"That there is a massive downturn in housing development is what I'm hearing from members across the country. I think we could be at the bottom though." - Neil Huck, senior contracts manager, Ground Control.


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