New plant insight given at RHS Wisley by Steve Austin

Plant Marketing International head of product development Steve Austin gave an insight into his company's role in developing new plants at RHS Plants for the Future last week at Wisley.

Austin, formerly of Hillier, said the company was founded in 2003 as a worldwide young plant supplier. It is Chichester-based but a joint venture with a tissue culture lab in Hangzhou, China.

At the meeting, Austin said business is 60 per cent USA, 15 per cent Europe, 15 per cent rest of the world and 10 per cent UK.

Plants worked with are Cordyline, Phormium, Yucca, Agapanthus and Grasses. Plants are 70 per cent stage three tissue culture and 30 per cent plug/other. The company grows on facilities in Devon at one of the glasshouses at Whetman Pinks and acts as a breeder’s agent.

The company is part of Langmead Group, which includes Whetman Pinks, Langmead Farms, Langmead Herbs, Natures Way Foods, Sun Salads, JW European and Plant Genetics International (PGI).

PGI, Whetman Pinks and Plant Marketing International (PMI) fit together through PGI acquiring the genetics, building relationships with non-competing breeders, in-house breeding in Devon, trials, Plant Breeders’ Rights and growing in glasshouses in Devon and China.

The company exhibits at trade shows, makes customer visits, builds customer relationships and does e-marketing. It has worldwide young plant customers and collects royalties for breeders in a "complete supply chain management of plants".

The joint venture employs 860 scientific personnel with 215 holding PhD degrees. In the UK the group sells to most of the major supermarkets, DIY stores and garden centre chains.

Austin said: "Worldwide, we aim to work with the largest and best placed growers to maximise royalty income, which "allows the breeder to focus on what they are best at – breeding - in the knowledge that their genetics are safe and earning them a global return on their investment of time and money".

The Langmead group is made up of fresh food, produce, farming, horticulture, property and energy companies with a combined annual turnover of £200m operating in UK, Spain, Italy, USA, China and employing 2,000 people.


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