Glendale Horticulture targets horticulture management experience as sales prosper this spring

Glendale Horticulture is looking for an experienced horticulturist to be new managing director after the departure of Lawrence Scowen.

Parkwood Holdings chairman Tony Hewitt said: "He [Scowen] has left the business and we are in discussions with someone else. We think we do need a horticulturist [to run Glendale Horticulture]."

Hewitt said it was "difficult recruiting good growers" and getting the right team has taken "longer than expected" after he restructured the business in autumn 2016.

Scowen replaced Andrew Bennett, who had been at Merediths, then Glendale, for nearly 20 years.

Glendale Horticulture has a new general manager starting in July in the Midlands area.

Hewitt said: "We restructured the business last autumn and have been putting in new process systems throughout the three [nursery] businesses." He said each had "decent" systems including Growmaster and WinTree software but now all use the Passfield management system for the 15m plant a year production."

Tony Hewitt

He added: "Sales are going well - this spring has been very good for plant sales." But he adds crop growth management has been "mixed, with some a bit early, and some because of the restructuring planted a bit late – but everything is working well".

Sales and marketing director is Steve Derbyshire, Phil Denman is finance director, and other board members are Hewitt and University of Lincoln’s Dr Simon Pearson, who is consulting on new technology.

Glendale Horticulture turns over £8m+ annually and produces a range of plants grown at its Merediths, Coblands and Mahood arms at 11 sites nationwide.

In February 2016, Glendale Horticulture centralised administration, finance, logistics and distribution operations at its nursery in Fretherne.

The company acquired Coblands in Kent in 2006, RA Meredith & Son Nurseries in Fretherne, Gloucestershire, in July 2013 and Mahood Brothers in Lathom, Lancashire, in November 2014.

On Glendale's future, Hewitt said: "We are looking at consolidating our production. We have 11 sites and that is too many. We will consolidate over the next two or three years. We are in discussions."

Glendale has already ordered plants for next spring and will be at exhibiting at the National Plant Show and visiting FlowerTrials this June.

"We have a big sales team of reps on the road which is part of the new strategy I brought in a couple of years ago to invest in sales. We have four people selling to independent garden centres and that market is at £2.5m sales now, up from nothing two years ago. Merediths did a lot with the independents 20 years ago but had nothing when we took over so we made a strategic decision [to move into the independent market.]"

Glendale Horticulture has a national sales person based in Gloucestershire, where online sales are also based. Hewitt said he would be looking for a new amenity sales manager in the north and a trainee sales manager in Kent.

Hewitt said the logistics of deliveries can be challenging. Glendale runs a mixed system with some of its own vehicles and some outsourced: "Wyevale and Homebase are two of our biggest customers and have taken transport in house and got their own warehousing. They collect and take to their hubs so we don’t generally now do the logistics for those two customers. But we helped Wyevale three or four weeks ago because everyone was very busy. Some customers have their own vehicles and collect from us.

Hewitt added that September catalogue prices are rising because of National Living Wage and other costs: "We expect inflation to be up 3%-4% by the year end."

He said a move into buying more British hasn’t happened at the moment: "At our last board meeting I heard the Dutch have held prices despite the euro making them more expensive. I can’t see that happening for ever."

Hewitt says the 2010 Anti Bribery Act could be behind there being fewer gardens at Chelsea Flower Show.Glendale supplied six last year and "nothing like that this year" so the Coblands arm of the business is looking at shows such as Tatton to supply garden designers.

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