Flower traders prepare for market's new venue

Flower sellers at New Covent Garden Market are looking ahead to moving venues after more than 40 years at their base in Vauxhall, south London. The 30 businesses will move to a smaller 4,650sq m (50,000sq ft) building nearby in January 2017 as part of the redevelopment of the Nine Elms site.

New Covent Garden: higher demand for British flowers
New Covent Garden: higher demand for British flowers

Covent Garden Market Authority (CGMA) business development and support director Helen Evans said the only option was to sell land to invest in the buildings. The £2bn redevelopment will see developers St Modwen and Vinci build new markets and get surplus land for mixed-use developments in return.

Evans said the £51m annual turnover market was in "severe decline" a decade ago but has now found its niche. She added that since the flower suppliers moved from their original Covent Garden site their businesses have changed considerably because of supermarkets taking over much of the mass of cut-flower retail sales.

Transactions at the market are now "specialised" and "niche" sales to florists who are designing bouquets for events after supermarkets "commoditised" cut flowers, she explained. Evans praised supermarkets for broadening the market but criticised cheap daffodil offers and the trend by supermarkets to use offers on fresh produce to "hook the consumer".

"The bulk" of product sold in the UK remains Dutch and "no one knows the implications" of leaving the EU, she added, saying she believes traders' hearts are telling them to leave but their heads are telling them to stay in Europe.

Evans said demand has risen recently for British-grown flowers but issues include volumes and lack of economies of scale. On marketing, she said the end of the UK Horticulture stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show was a "real shame". CGMA has an exhibit at this May's show to promote the market's move to its new home.

The future of British-grown is in co-operation, said Evans. "The only way the cut-flower industry in this country is going to grow is by banding together." She used FloraBritain as an example.

Pratley owner Mick Waite said high-end florists are now a big customer for his largely British- grown offer of stocks, ranunculus, tulips and many other varieties from growers such as LF Geater and Smith & Munson. He added that he believes importers have unfair advantages. "I will be voting out of Europe because the Dutch lorries drive around shops delivering without declaring for tax at our ports. If we were out of Europe they would have to pay tax on what is on their lorries."

JW Tyrrell's William and Sam Tyrell said promotions such as Red Tractor help but "there has been very little on the floriculture side", though British Flowers Week (13-19 June) is useful.

Bobby Cooley of L Mills said his bedding offer will "always have a place" in the market but it is now a "cottage industry". He is against leaving Europe because "it won't stop lorries driving through the tunnel" and "as Churchill said, jaw is better than war". Cooley said he is "an outlet" now for the nursery, with most sales going direct, in common with most of the industry, where online orders and direct deliveries are the norm.

Zest Flowers' Graeme Diplock said the better quality of British flowers creates demand, though all-year-round supply is impossible. He added that leaving Europe would be a "worry" and called the new building a "positive change".


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Business planning - Post-Brexit recruitment

Business planning - Post-Brexit recruitment

A good human resources strategy can help to ensure that you have enough of the right staff at the right time, Neville Stein advises.

How will apprenticeship levy impact horticulture business?

How will apprenticeship levy impact horticulture business?

Next month's introduction of the Government apprenticeship levy could offer good value for money for horticultural businesses, Rachel Anderson discovers.

Loropetalum

Loropetalum

Colourful flowers and stunning foliage are great rewards for growing this often unfamiliar plant, says Miranda Kimberley.


Opinion: Edwards On... Plant supply and health

Opinion: Edwards On... Plant supply and health

Increasingly, and rightly, plant health/biosecurity is being recognised as something of which all of us involved in plant supply must be aware.

From The Editor - Prospects for the year ahead

From The Editor - Prospects for the year ahead

Making predictions about the future is a risky business in the best of times. Throw in a year when the UK is set to begin the formal process of leaving the EU and all bets are off. Despite this, the HW team has prepared our biggest-ever preview of the year ahead.

According To Edwards ... Why horticulture needs a different dialogue to farming

According To Edwards ... Why horticulture needs a different dialogue to farming

The Government will always look on "horticulture" as a sector within "agriculture" and, when the trade effectively gets its message across, the Government recognises "nursery stock" as a non-edible subset of horticulture.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.