Mr Fothergill's to promote gift ranges

Company aiming to attract new customers and expand into new markets with change in focus for promotional activity.

Trials grounds: Mr Fothergill's aiming to stop the plants self seeding
Trials grounds: Mr Fothergill's aiming to stop the plants self seeding

Mr Fothergill's is promoting gift ranges to attract new customers and expand into new markets rather than merely marketing new varieties, according to joint managing director David Carey.

The firm will be at this year's Glee trade show held at Birmingham's NEC (14-16 September) promoting its new ranges and gift products - rather than simply showing "10m of seed racks" - to "drive people to what we're doing differently".

It has upgraded its IT systems to NetSuite and Klondkye is a new customer. Carey said sales this season have been much better than 2013.

More people are buying their plants and seeds online, said Mr Fothergill's direct marketing manager Paul Pates. Mail-order sales are now 40 per cent online, up from the mid 20s a couple of years ago.

He said the company is trying to promote online orders but they will not replace paper-based catalogues, which customers still like using, even if they place orders online.

For 2015, Mr Fothergill's is promoting the sunflower, which is Fleuroselect's plant of the year. Mr Fothergill's technical manager Tracy Collacott is the UK's Fleuroselect representative.

Meanwhile, pests and diseases in 2014 have been the "weirdest" ever, said Collacott. Flea beetle has wiped out young shoots including alyssum, anything sown late, radish and leafy vegetables.

She said the mild winter meant pests have not been wiped out. Warm and wet weather recently has led to mildew and "caterpillars have been horrendous recently", she added.

Collacott said trials manager Brian Talman plans to use Roundup to stop nasturtiums and other plants self seeding on the trials grounds.

New lines - Mr Fothergill's plants and seeds

Sweet pea 'Jimelda' is a new Lathyrus from Mr Fothergill's named after Downton Abbey actors Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton.

The RSPB has teamed up with the company for a wildlife-attracting seed range, while Hannah McVicar, daughter of herb queen Jekka, has designed a Designer Garden Collection of flower seed boxed gift packs.

Mr Fothergill's has sold 100,000 packets of Poppy Victoria Cross, its best-selling line in 2014, donating £25,000 to the Royal Hospital. Capel Manor College horticultural student Samantha Jackson won the 2014 Mr Fothergill's Award for the student who has demonstrated the highest skills in plant care.


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