HTA presses on with Sunday trading campaign

The HTA will look for the "next legislative opportunity" and has been working trying to persuade MPs from all parties to vote for extending Sunday trading from the current six hours.

Head of horticulture Raoul Curtis-Machin said the HTA had pointed out to SNP MPs, who are opposed to change in England and Wales and have prevented legislative progress so far, that some large garden centre companies are Scotland-based.

He said: "We still want to present our case that garden retail is sufficiently different from regular retail that it warrants a special case like farm shops."

A bill could be re-introduced as early as February, with the SNP cut out thanks to new English Votes for English Laws rules.

The HTA distributed a brochure on the issue to Parliamentarians at the Ornamental Round Table Action Plan launch on 19 January at Parliament.

The brochure said "relaxing existing trading rules will benefit the garden industry" and said those rules "target" large retailers over 280sqm.

It said Sunday opening would "extend family, leisure and community time" and staff would be protected.

Online retail's threat and a potential £75m gain for garden centres are detailed.

The brochure said garden centres are "easily defined" as 92 per cent have more than a fifth of their selling area outside for plant sales.

The HTA says it has based its analysis on Dobbies and Klondyke centres, both of which operate in Scotland and England. It found some staff still work on Easter Sunday, even where trading is banned, for instance to turn customers away. One chain of seven English centres is cited as having turned away 1,872 cars away on Easter Sunday. 

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