Landscape firms report strong activity

Landscaping businesses are reporting strong activity despite widespread public sector budget cuts and belt-tightening, senior landscape figures have said. But pressures on pricing remain tough.

Private contracts for domestic clients and large commercial projects such as housing developments and shopping malls are keeping landscape firms "busier than ever", according to British Association of Landscape Industries technical director Neil Huck.

Huck, also senior contracts manager at landscape and grounds maintenance group Ground Control, said the number of domestic contracts was increasing because people were staying at home more.

But potential clients were shopping around and demanding higher standards for less money, he added. "Both domestic and commercial clients are looking around thinking they will get a bargain and some firms have definitely dropped their margins. People are also looking at our reputations more critically," he said.

Association of Professional Landscapers chair Mark Gregory said the abundance of private work was creating a feeling of optimism in the sector compared to last year.

"There are a lot of amazing domestic projects up for grabs out there," he said. "But it's a buyer's market and contractors are going in with very aggressive prices to secure work," he added.

Gregory also warned that this year could be difficult for smaller firms without the resources to take on larger projects or diversify into different markets.

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