Rose firms Harkness and Chessum strike up working partnership

Partnership formed so Harkness can breed new varieties and Chessum can bring them to market.

Harkness: breeding programme - image: Harkness Roses
Harkness: breeding programme - image: Harkness Roses

Harkness Roses is partnering with Chessum Roses so that Harkness can breed new varieties and Chessum can bring them to market.

Harkness Roses owner Philip Harkness said: "Chessum is using the Harkness brand to work together selecting varieties to make sure we breed what the market wants.

"It all feeds back into the breeding programme so we're not doing rose breeding in a blinkered way. Chessum is working with retailers and this targets our activity more accurately. We have a close working relationship and with their contacts we have the got chain through breeding, supply, marketing and retailing. We have a greater opportunity to provide product that is more saleable."

Harkness said consumers are looking for stocky rather than leggy roses, bigger flowers such as the new Harkness celebrity rose to be launched at Hampton Court and bee-friendly single-flower roses in environmental ranges. 'Susie', named after Lord David Sainsbury's wife, is a new compact climber with a shiny leaf.

Harkness said he is aiming for the mid market and waiting for an upturn in the sector. The UK rose market has improved since 2012 and is better than Europe, "which is suffering from over-production", he added.

He said there will be fewer roses planted in 2015 than in 2014, but: "I'm pretty confident the UK market has hit a low point and by 2016 in the European market there will be a shortage."

The market is changing fast as a result of the internet age, with more instant solutions required, he added.

Consolidation and slight improvement in rose market seen as step in right direction

"Looking to the recent past - where of the past three years two have been difficult for horticulture in general with depressed sales recorded - 2014 suggested some consolidation and slight improvement, which indicates a move in the right direction. This is probably due to a slight improvement in the retail sector and a reduction in production volumes, thus reducing any potential of oversupply of roses, something that has had an impact on the market in recent times.

"For now it remains possible that there will be further pressure on domestic production as the euro weakens, thus making continental imports cheaper in the short to medium term. The falling price of oil will also help reduce import distribution costs. Looking ahead, we are confident that members of the British Association of Rose Breeders will continue to offer value to their customers by supplying the quality, support and range of roses the UK market demands.

"In this coming 2015 season we anticipate seeing fewer rose rootstocks planted throughout the UK and the rest of Europe - down by perhaps somewhere between 20 per cent or 30 per cent on 2012 levels. But as the domestic and European markets consolidate further we expect a boost in profitability for the rose trade in future years."

Ian Kennedy, British Association of Rose Breeders/Roses UK

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