Newey Group managing director Alex Newey said: "I'm expecting growth in the business ranging from 10-13 per cent in 2016 so I'm pretty optimistic."
He said National Minimum Wage costs were "the single biggest issue we face as an industry". To combat this, he said growers needed to get product to market in a more cost-effective way, with better packaging, distribution, lower overheads and better new product development.Newey, said Roundstone remains focussed on supplying B&Q, while New Forest Plants and New Place Nurseries are supplying B&Q, Homebase, Wyevale Garden Centres and independents.
He added that autumn was "not as good as it should have been because it was too warm and most people had still got summer bedding in," though spring and summer had been good.
Plants for Europe owner Graham Spencer said: "There’s a general optimism, although I think there are still some bad debts (John Woods, German DIY stores, etc) to work through the system and that has to be a concern for those companies exposed to that."
Spencer predicted more mergers/acquisitions and liner production shrinking still further. "More growers are shifting to plugs – it offers a cost saving."
He added that supply chain "is going to be a big issue in 2016 and beyond, partly because there are fewer (if any) truly independent supply chain options left due to mergers (Ball/Aris, Dummen/Florexpo, Volmary/Delamore) and that process is ongoing".
APHA said it had run out of Xylella leaflets, with growers fearing the plant disease. Spencer said the disease could lead to more unrooted production moving to Europe from the rest of the world.
Spencer added that exchange rate issues means further impact on British growers with cheap (Dutch) imports and also impact on British breeders with reduced income from euro-denominated royalties.
Seiont Nurseries manager Neil Alcock said forward orders are "way up" and the grower is looking to expand production, adding: "It's the first time I've felt like this since 2011 where I've seen an opportunity for increases in plugs and liners".
He said the Twitter hashtag #ukbred was bearing fruit and that retailers were more interested in talking to him about new product now.Howard Nurseries director Christine Howard said the grower is building two new packing shed bays to help deal with production.
Earley Ornamentals owner Simon Earley said that optimism was less strong than at the end of June after a weaker autumn bedding season: "Because bedding plants flowered for so long autumn has been a bit of an anti-climax." This meant the season has been "good but not as good as it could have been".
As such growers "are just cautiously optimistic and not very optimistic as they were three or four months ago. But on the whole we're in much better situation than two years ago."