Pots and containers

Customer appeal is the top consideration for manufacturers developing new pots and containers, Sally Drury finds.

Davenport Planters: three sizes are available in amber, apple green and postbox red - image: Anglo Eastern Trading Co
Davenport Planters: three sizes are available in amber, apple green and postbox red - image: Anglo Eastern Trading Co

Growers, retailers, landscapers and garden designers all need pots and containers, and while they each have different requirements the bottom line is that they must appeal to the customer.

Recognising the importance of colour appeal, Soparco has expanded its SX range with the addition of nine bright and trendy shades, all in silky matt. Colours include red, fuchsia, violet, yellow, plum and orange, while the bottom geometry of the pots now has three levels to optimise substrate aeration and drainage.

SX pots come with four G2 slot boxes for carrying handles, including the new easy-install "Ready-to-Go" handle. These are compatible with all G2 and G4 slot boxes, available in 13 colours and stimulate the act of purchase by allowing an easy, secure and clean grip of the plants.

In addition, Soparco has launched a brand new square/round pot to join the 18 existing products in this range. Measuring 14x14x14.8cm, it offers logistical handling advantages and has a multi-level bottom as well as a strong collar to aid fork gripping.

Facility investment

Dutch container pot manufacturer Kreuwel Plastics has hit record production levels after recent investment in a new manufacturing and storage facility, increasing capacity to 16,000sq m. Co-owner and managing director Stefan Louis reports that Kreuwel produced 60 million nursery containers last year. "We are achieving our business plan and now hold extra stock in the Netherlands available for direct export delivery for the 2016 season."

UK agent Nigel Swain of Square Root Horticulture has launched Kreuwel's new products in the UK, including KPGE round injection label-slot containers with 20-hole drainage available in 2l, 3l, 4l, 5l and 7.5l containers. Additionally, there is a new Dutch shaped style 3.5l pot and a 1l square/round KSR container (10.5x10.5cm), which fits 60 pots to a Danish trolley.

Swain reports strong sales and growth, and has noticed higher demand for bright colours as well as new-style European containers and planters. In his own Europlast brand Swain has a new range of injection moulded light Euro planters, new pot carry trays and new specialist thermoformed tray and pot items.

"Our strength is in consistent quality of product and service, and in having a dedicated sales office and warehouse based in the UK," adds Swain. "The emphasis is on growth for us and we believe presently we can provide the best prices for injection pots in the industry."

Colours are again themed by Modiform as the company introduces six bright colours of an injection moulded bowl designed in conjunction with a bedding plant grower. The bowl has a diameter of 217mm and fits 12 per shelf.

"The grower was looking for something that was different to other added-value products on the market," explains sales manager Shaun Herdsman. "We decided that we could colour co-ordinate the plants with the bowls, offering the retailer a single colour per shelf. The result was a stunning trolley display, which the grower and the retailer were pleased with."

Other new products and ideas from Modiform include a patio container that allows the retailer to offer the customer a refillable pot, a range of trays specially designed to show off printed or coloured pots and four new shuttle trays boasting increased strength and improved drainage at a lower price.

Colours added to ranges

The choice of outdoor planters for garden centres and growers seems overwhelming, although in reality it is limited largely to UK and European producers as well as Far East suppliers. Until 2010 colours were predominantly terracotta, green, white and black. But over the past five years, Far East producers with lower labour costs have been innovative in adding colour/value to planters produced in those ranges.

Market research carried out by Anglo Eastern Trading Co over the past three years has shown consumers prefer "something different - something that shines through every time". sales director Nigel Guffogg points out: "Innovation and marketing properly is the main route forward."

The firm offers a comprehensive range of planters, hanging baskets, troughs and containers from its warehouse and showroom in Lancashire, delivering throughout the UK and Ireland. Through its Kunshan office, near Shanghai, it can arrange a sampling service.

More research by Anglo Eastern Trading shows that adding colour to a planter is more appealing to consumer choice, but this can be taken a stage further. "Pantone colours are the same the world over, with everyone working to the same hymn sheet," notes Guffogg. "So, if a UK garden centre chain or multiple store wants to make itself stand out from the rest and have a range of outdoor planters produced in a specific Pantone colour, then this can be done. To go one stage further and have a colour wash added to this produces something quite special."

The company's new product offering for 2016 includes a range of Pantone colours for its 30cm Serenity and Chengdu planters. These are designed to match/colour co-ordinate with the plant material used and so create distinct themes and trends within the garden.

"Colour concepts can create contrasting moods and temperaments, with a good example of this being our warm pastel blues and greens having a coastal/seaside influence, reminiscent of holidays by the sea," Guffogg explains. "The vibrant, striking purple and orange red planters have an Eastern influence, creating a much bolder statement."

With colours forming an important part of the home and garden, Anglo Eastern Trading has also introduced a new raspberry colour to its Iberian planter range, complementing its existing colours of mahogany, latte and coffee. Davenport Planters, available in three sizes up to 46x38cm, are now offered in amber, apple green and postbox red.

Guffogg also reports that consumers are increasingly looking for something with green credentials but do not really want to pay any more for it. Noting that in Germany consumers face fines for putting plastic planters into landfill, a solution may be seen in biodegradable materials such as bamboo. However, this is not the case in the UK.

Acceptable innovation

"If we go back to our market research with UK consumers' preferences, the idea that you buy a bamboo planter - biodegradable - that will only last three-to-five years but is good for the environment, and you explain the story behind it, only falls on deaf ears," says Guffogg. "In certain circumstances, innovation is very acceptable to consumers as long as it doesn't cost any more and impede on daily lives."

There are other ways of earning green credentials. Many products produce huge volumes of waste that could be recycled into something new and useful. At garden retail trade show Glee last month (see p33), Anglo Eastern Trading launched a range of rubber planters made from recycled tyres.

"So we change something that is a waste product into something that is eminently useful for the UK garden," says Guffogg. "This gives the consumer a product with green credentials, something unique and different, an attractive planter that is affordable and the consumer feels they are doing their bit."

Also at Glee, the company displayed a range of planters made from pulp waste - recycled magazines and newspapers - to judge consumer preference.

Fargro has also launched a comprehensive selection of products for the 2016 season. With all-weather plastic hanging baskets, rattan-style baskets, containers with new colour finishes and updated collections of wooden, ceramic and galvanised planters, there should be something to appeal to all customers.

Clients supporting British manufacturers

Leading manufacturer of garden ornaments and architectural stonework Haddonstone reports continued demand for high-quality, robust planters made to last a lifetime. The company tells us the "British made for quality" concept seems important to clients wishing to support British manufacturers over imports that are currently "inundating" the marketplace. Haddonstone's Clarence Urn, an elegant design inspired by the designs of the Regency period, is one of the firm's most popular planters.

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