Horticulture industry figures express concern over future of Lincsflora

The proposed closure of one of Britain's biggest cut flower growers is worrying the industry.

Lincsflora, formed from £45m turnover grower and packer Winchester Growers this year, has told staff that it is looking at proposals to close the business.

Estimated annualised stem production is 85m per annum and turnover is £30m at Lincsflora, meaning it makes up more than one fifth of the £140m UK cut flower industry. Winchester Growers' Cornish daffodil business, still operating under the Winchester Growers name, is now separate.

NFU acting chief horticulture advisor Chris Hartfield said: "It is sad to hear that at a time when there is an increasing demand for British-grown cut flowers, one of this country’s biggest growers is considering closure. If British growers are struggling to justify investment in new growing and packing facilities, then all players in the supply chain need to come together to identify where the challenges are and whether they can be overcome."

It supplied alliums, peonies and lilies to the NFU/Waitrose UK Horticulture exhibit in 2014.

Organiser Penny Riley said: "We’ve lost a lot of the big growers and it’s a real struggle to find UK cut flower growers now. It’s a great shame they don’t get more support from our Government. If it closes it will be terrible for the industry. People don’t realise what’s going on. It’s another huge hole in British horticulture that will go to the Dutch. I don’t know where it’s going to end."

National Cut Flower Centre manager Lyndon Mason said: "A lot will depend on what happens to the sites and if anyone takes them on.  If they don't and all of that UK production is lost, it will open up opportunities for other growers but I am not sure that there is currently enough spare capacity out there to fill the gap.

"I don't think it will affect the Cut Flower Centre in the short term but if the production is not taken up by other growers it would obviously impact the HDC levy take.  That said, Winchester Growers have been very supportive of the centre over the years and there is no doubt that we will miss them.  The daffodil side of Winchester Growers will still generate some HDC levy."

He said a grower might take parts of the business on as a short term lease to simply increase production capacity.

TV gardener Christine Walkden tweeted: "The UK generally does not appreciate what is grown and produced for them."

One Show gardener Walkden said the lack of publicity about the proposed closure was a shame, adding: "Sadly I don't think the people who have influence have ears and don't care. They never have."

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