Garden centre consolidation the "biggest issue" facing the garden furniture market

Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA) members are concerned about consolidation despite a enjoying a good season in 2015.

LOFA chairman Paul Bevington says consolidation in the market is the biggest issue facing members.

Speaking at LOFA's Solex show in Birmingham NEC last week, Bevington said "a dozen independent garden centres" did not attend the show because they had been bought up, mainly by Wyevale Garden Centres.

He said this was leading to a more competitive market among suppliers, who had fewer "buying points" to sell to.

The Kettler managing director said the sector was 25 per cent up on average this year, which had led to shortages in some areas.

He said long lead times from China had put pressure on supply chains but added that this meant garden centres were keener to have higher stock levels going into 2016. Bevington said not all companies had been able to get extra stock this year and some had flown in items, or had short supply of some models and colours.

Some manufacturers reported sales up 85 per cent this season. LOFA membership is up to alomost 70. The Solex hall five at the NEC was almost full and Bevington hopes to fill it in 2016.

Trends emerging from the show were pizza ovens, the continuance of weave and steel as garden furniture materials, 'casual dining', waterproofing of materials, and more companies supplying covers and other accessories for garden furniture.

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