Pool resources and costs to help secure future, growers told

In future nurseries could share sales staff, sourcing costs, nursery workers and transport hubs, according to the author of the HTA/HDC/DEFRA-backed Ornamentals Supply Chain Management project report, published this week.

Author Andrew Hewson recommended four regional transport hubs and said the report must act as a wake-up call to struggling growers. He said they must work on efficiency and “deliver better service levels”. He added: “The problem we’ve got is growers are also trying to be transport managers.” HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said if many growers don’t improve service and cut costs they will go out of business in the next five years. “In many cases the service we provide is not better than from Holland. Medium-sized businesses are threatened because of inefficiencies with sales and transport networks.” Hewson added: “If it continues as it is, more nurseries will be forced out and we’ll have more imports. Many growers need to consolidate and form regional transport hubs, the sooner the better. We’re looking for a significant number of major players to be more joined-up in a more integrated supply chain in three to five years.” Hewson said transport hubs similar to the Midland Regional Growers scheme may be soon set up. South-coast nurseries including Lowaters have applied to South East England Development Agency to fund a transport hub, while the Anglia Group and Kinglea Plants have transport schemes in the East. Hewson recommended a Scottish scheme and commended AE Roberts’ staff-sharing scheme. He gathered information on the UK supply chain from growers and retailers, including B&Q and Homebase, and compared the situation in the Netherlands. He said UK growers needed a “culture change” and could learn from the Dutch, who work more co-operatively.

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