Editorial ... Garden industry prospects and election pledges

After a disappointing rain-hit May, the garden industry will be heading into this weekend's second key bank holiday period buoyed by better weather - and a final boost for sales from publicity surrounding the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

As we report in this edition, most retailers are now expecting to finish the season comfortably above 2016's sales.

Looking a little further ahead, to June's general election, we also report in this edition on the key policy measures contained in the main parties' manifestos and ask what they mean for landscape, http://www.hortweek.com/article/1434391 and the garden retail industry.

Key benefits include universal housebuilding commitments coupled with a recognition of the need for well-designed urban areas, plus a focus on infrastructure - all of which are broadly welcomed by the landscape sector.

Key concerns remain the threat of damaging constraints on access to labour - of particular concern to the production sector, but also impacting contractor businesses. Meanwhile, the implementation of the National Living Wage continues to tax garden retailers.

Elsewhere we take a look at the latest cross council "mega-contract" signed for maintenance services and ask what benefits the model brings. Are more cross-council deals in the offing? We also examine industry reaction to the latest study on neonicotinoid use and how the production sector can boost technology take-up post-Brexit.

Plus our regular look at professional product developments, which in this edition includes insight from technical editor and kit expert Sally Drury on the latest equipment for pitches and her pick of new chainsaws and pruning tools.


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