Predicting the future is no easy task

Trying to foretell the future is a mug's game, as those consultants who claimed factors other than the weather were holding down turnover have, after two sunny May Bank holidays and a warm July, now found out.

Peter Seabrook
Peter Seabrook
When Albert Bygraves and his son started growing woody plants in containers in the early 1960s, we could see year round selling, and garden centre development was a natural.

Subsequently, it became obvious that middle-range turnover garden centres were vulnerable — and so it has proved as the pioneer generation have sold out to multiple retailers. The big destination centres are increasingly dependent on coffee shops and Christmas sales, which poses the big question: "What future for plant sales?"

Few of us foresaw the potential of TV shopping channels, online retailing continues to make headway, and mail order offers potential, especially when selling to the better off, older generation.

National flower shows look to have the smell of death about them as floral marquee exhibitors steadily decline in number, size of exhibits shrink and aisles get wider. Two years ago I thought the RHS garden shows were the way forward with ready-made, low-cost sites and services available.

But visiting the Hyde Hall Flower Show this year I am now not so sure. The absence of judging and award for display quality is allowing standards to slip. Further, the Society can hardly expect exhibitors to make an effort when it erects a large marquee and stocks it with container plants to sell in direct competition with small nursery exhibitors.

Now one of the big chains has independent consultants sitting in on buying negotiations, telling experienced horticulturists how to do their job and insisting on a three per cent cut in prices for the coming year. We all know where that will lead.

What future, then, for a UK wholesale nursery growing to a high standard? My advice would be to team up with an online provider and sell direct.     

Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.

GroSouth 2017 update

GroSouth 2017 update

First-time and established exhibitors are preparing to showcase products and services at this year's show in West Sussex, Gavin McEwan reports.

Pest & Disease Factsheet - Vine weevil

Pest & Disease Factsheet - Vine weevil

Avoid costly damage by this serious plant pest.


Opinion... Pepper breeders' wealth of knowledge

Opinion... Pepper breeders' wealth of knowledge

Peter Seabrook looks forward to garden centre pepper-tasting weekends.

Opinion... Shining a light on trading with Europe

Opinion... Shining a light on trading with Europe

Accurate figures are notoriously difficult to get at, but without doubt the UK imports a great deal of its ornamental plant requirement.

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Viewing top-quality plants, both growing and on sale, always gives me pleasure.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles