Exchange rate sees grower lose garden centre client to Holland

'We've lost a garden centre who wants to buy from Holland on price,' says Woodlark Nurseries

Poinsettias: energy costs play a significant part in growers’ policies - image: HW
Poinsettias: energy costs play a significant part in growers’ policies - image: HW

A UK poinsettia grower has lost a big garden centre customer that switched to Dutch crops because of favourable exchange rates.

Woodlark Nurseries managing director Colin Edwards said: "We don’t grow poinsettia without the clear indication by the customer that they are going to buy them. We agree a price in January for the next season.

"We wouldn’t grow on spec now because of energy costs. We sell 90 per cent — we can’t sell 100 per cent so have less than 10 per cent surplus.

"We’ve lost a large garden centre this year who wants to buy from Holland on price. They told us in January. To be fair to them, I don’t have an issue unless they let you down when they’re ready. I wouldn’t grow speculatively, irrespective of the euro.

"We sell a slightly larger item more for the garden centre — we only supply garden centres. It’s a premium product and we give very good service, delivering a few trays at a time, which means less waste because they’re easily damaged. Transport is not good for poinsettia, however well they are grown."

Woodlark grows 5,000 one-litre, 3,000 two-litre and 30,000 10cm pots. The 10cm pots mostly go into planted arrangements. Overall numbers are similar to 2014.

"A lot of growers use biomass and we’re a way down that road," added Edwards. "We are going to put biomass in to maintain our poinsettia crop for the next 20 years.

"2005 was the last time the oil price was so low. It’s 41p a litre on gas oil to burn and we have paid 70p. Mild weather up to Christmas can save us up to £20,000 on oil because poinsettia need to be grown at 16-18°C."

B&Q has moved all its poinsettia production to the UK from Holland. The retailer uses Cobbins and Bell Brothers as growers.

Supermarket impact - Cheap prices hit centres’ poinsettia sales

Highfields Garden World planteria manager Jon Mason said the number of poinsettia it sells has dropped from a couple of thousand to just 300 in recent years because of "supermarkets chucking them out at ridiculously cheap prices".

Highfields concentrates on premium £10-£15 poinsettias, orchids and cyclamens.

Monkton Elm planteria manager Andrew Pitman said local grower JB has supplied it for 20 years and it still sells 800-900 a year. It does not compete with supermarkets on price but aims to beat them on quality.

"I’m only happy to have product that is more likely to succeed for the customer. JB grows them hard and they’re nothing like the ones you see in supermarkets that have been grown abroad very soft."

British Protected Ornamentals Association chairman Simon Davenport said more material will come in from abroad so it will be more difficult to sell to retailers such as supermarkets that are not committed to UK growers.

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