Exchange rate spells tougher market

UK growers advised to emphasise their service, quality and localness as shifting exchange rate takes effect on market.

Caesar: growers are prepared
Caesar: growers are prepared

Sterling has climbed by 10 per cent against the euro since August 2013, making the market more difficult for UK growers.

Bransford Webbs managing director and HTA ornamental committee chairman Geoff Caesar said UK growers are prepared for the change, which will eventually "eat into" home grown sales. "If you're a grower that's buying young plants in Europe or trading, there's a reduction in price you're paying for the stock.

"We'd rather see it the other way round, making the finished plant material more competitive in the marketplace. It also makes van sales more attractive. It's tempting for garden centres when a van's parked in the car park and you have a bit of room."

Caesar added: "We knew that the weak pound wouldn't last forever. British growers reacted to that with the British Plant Fair, National Plant Show and home-grown campaigns, which have been really positive and successful in raising the issue with retailers."

He said UK growers should emphasise their service, quality and localness because margins are already tight and there is nothing they can do about exchange rates.

Perrywood Nurseries owner Alan Bourne, who grows and retails, said: "It's going to make it harder for English growers to compete and some prices we've had from Holland this year have been very good.

"According to some Dutch suppliers, England is the only country in Europe buying plants. The Dutch, Germans and French have surpluses this year."

Bourne pointed out that "staycations" might dip as people holiday abroad more as their pounds go further and some Dutch imports such as hydrangeas are cheaper to import than grow yourself, with some imports almost 20 per cent cheaper than at the start of the year.

Four Oaks Trade Show Overseas exhibitors 'seize the opportunity'

This year's Four Oaks Trade Show (2-3 September) will have 443 exhibitors, with about a third from overseas. Organiser Pat Coutts said European companies are "seizing the opportunity to trade in the UK while the market is strong".

Holland has the biggest presence and Belgium is more prominent this year as new companies join the Flanders Agricultural Marketing Board on a national stand

Italy has 15 exhibitors, with three new to the show on the 24-nursery cooperative Consorzio Ortovivaisti Pistoiesi stand. Toscana Piante is a new internet-based agency. Floranord is also attending, as is Flor-Coop Lago Maggiore, a cooperative returning after a three-year absence.

Also at the show will be Holland Bulb Market, French hydrangea producer Sicamus Productions, tree and perennial supplier Griffioen, Belgian distributor Gimall Plants and De Jong Plant from Boskoop, specialising in hydrangeas, lavatera, Malva and Paeonia.

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