Horticulture Week vox pops: How has your year started?

HW polled major retailers at the HTA business briefing held at Webbs Garden Centre in Ryton.

Caroline Palmer, managing director, Palmers Garden Centres

"Quite encouragingly. Obviously, the weather has been bad, but my centre has got off to a better than expected start.

"January and February are always rubbish so we try and put in place promotions at the end of the previous year and it pays off. We use promotions in our cafe and gift shop to bring people in at the start of the year because they may not be likely to come in for plants. Because of this, sales have been good.

"As to how the rest of the year is going to pan out, I'm feeling very positive and I'm quite confident it will be a good year."

Neil Grant, managing director, Ferndale Garden Centres

"It started to snow properly the Sunday before Christmas and apart from a couple of days it was snowy for a month, so it has had its effect and it had a big effect at Christmas.

"The rest of the year is going to be dependent on the weather. We are that much further north and we tend to get rain from both directions.

"If the weather is good we will have a great spring. If not, it will be difficult, and that is when the recession will really start to show. People will spend cash on their gardens but only if they can go into them."


Boyd Douglas-Davies, chief executive officer, Webbs Garden Centre

"Taking the weather into account, it's actually been good. We have had the extreme drops in business due entirely to the weather but we have also had some strong trading periods to counterbalance that, so our view is positive and we are looking forward to a strong year.

"We have a positive outlook on the like-for-like figures from last year and customer reaction has been excellent. All we need is to get rid of the snow and we will be very happy."


Caroline Owen, managing director, Scotsdales Nursery and Garden Centre

"I think there is pent up demand out there. We just need the weather to break - it has been amazing, you can't even see a daffodil out there.

"In some years you could be facing Easter in a week or two, so we should be grateful we are not this year. In January we just held up against last year's figures and though we are up at the moment, I believe that by the end of this month we will be down."

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