South West Growers Show 2016 - Connecting buyers and sellers

A full capacity of 80 exhibitors are expected this year at the South West's premier event for commercial horticulture, Matthew Appleby reports

South West Growers Show: regional event now in 43rd year offers a shop window to all sectors of non-field-scale horticulture - image: South West Growers
South West Growers Show: regional event now in 43rd year offers a shop window to all sectors of non-field-scale horticulture - image: South West Growers

The South West Growers Show (SWGS), now in its 43rd year, is run by growers for growers and aims to offer a shop window to all sectors of non-field-scale horticulture. Growers of ornamental plants, trees and shrubs sit alongside horticultural supplies and sundries, specialist machinery and equipment, compost, fertiliser and retailing solutions plus technical advisers and trade bodies offering advice and solutions. 

Show organiser Kirsty Lane expects a full house of 80 exhibitors at the Matford Centre in Exeter, Devon. Show chairman David Jackson of FJ Jackson & Son says: "The SWGS has established itself as the foremost event in the South West for the commercial horticultural industry." 

Meet key suppliers

He adds: "It provides the ideal venue to meet key growers and horticultural suppliers as well as sourcing the latest plant introductions and products, and offers the perfect opportunity to meet colleagues and discuss the issues currently affecting the industry and seek advice. We also offer several seminars, which are free to attend, covering a wide range of topics.

"We are also very proud of the fact that the show is not for profit, with any profit going towards sponsorship schemes and bursaries to help young growers into this vital sector." The show routinely makes donations of up to £1,500 to the David Colegrave Foundation to support new entrants into the industry.

Jackson continues: "The quality and number of visitors at any show is critical. Providing exhibitors with buyers and ensuring those visitors have buying power are the two critical elements that made last year’s show stand out. We aimed to develop the event as a show for growers, run by growers. 

This has helped in positioning it as an excellent business forum. We are heartened by the positive comments from visitors and exhibitors alike and looking forward to a successful 2016 show."

The event’s committee comprises Jackson, east Devon’s plug and pot plant specialist; Mark Taylor, business development manager of young plant producer Kernock Park Plants in Cornwall; Andrew Spilsbury and Adam Powell from family-run nursery Talaton Plants; Les Lane of XL Horticulture; and Samantha Wallis and Bill Finch of WeeTree Wholesale Nurseries based in Somerset. 

This year’s show will include a designated display area for new products and new plant introductions. University of Exeter director of grounds and South West branch representative of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture Iain Park will be among the judges who will frequent the area during the show to determine the winners in the Best New Plant Introduction, Best New Non-Plant Product or Service and Best Nursery Stand award categories. 

New exhibitors will include plant packaging company Macpac, New Leaf Plants and Image Retail Solutions. Macpac will be exhibiting two new products for plug plant growers. The large letter pack, introduced for the 2016 season, enables up to six plug plants to be sent via Royal Mail for the price of a large letter. The new LL312 pack will accommodate up to 12 plugs but with no extra delivery cost. 

In addition, the 9cm plug range will be extended with a single pot version, the P915, with a foliage height of 150mm that takes either square or round pots. All packs are manufactured from recycled material that can in turn be further recycled. The conventional plug plant range includes 4cm, 5cm and 6cm plugs for six- and 12-plug variations along with a selection of seed tray propagators available in three different sizes.

New Leaf Plants has a possible launch of clematis liners after recently having built a one-acre propagation unit at its new Bredon View (formerly Hillview) site, near its existing Evesham nursery. In the future New Leaf will be supplying liner stock, which it has not done before. There will be plug and pre-lined liners for other growers. New Leaf is also now selling Raymond Evison-branded clematis.

Plant database

Image Retail Solutions offers a pre-populated database of more than 10,000 plants. It specialises in garden centre electronic point of sale (POS) as well as offering 5,000 images of plants and shrubs, Piccolink handheld terminals for price checking and stock control, seasonal stock reporting and management, thermal label printing for non-barcoded items and integrated debit and credit card processing for streamlined POS.

Kernock Park Plants’ Mark Taylor says the young plant grower will have 59 new plants on its stand after releasing its new catalogue in September. As Kernock’s local show, the nursery always attends, he explains. "Jackson’s cash and carry is closing so we’ve invited along their customers to pick up a catalogue to help out their customer base, which is quite a large part of the visitor base at the show."

Jackson says: "The nursery will now focus on pot plant production. We already grow 500,000 a year and hope to broaden our range for year-round supply to garden centres and retailers. We’ll be promoting our Christmas plants at the SWGS. After more than 25 happy years in the plug plant trade, it’s time for a change."

While his cash and carry is closing for personnel reasons, Jackson points out that the overall market for small bedding growers has shrunk, partly because of supermarkets selling bedding seasonally and partly because of central buying from expanding chains such as Wyevale Garden Centres. 

He has worked with his three main suppliers — Kernock Park Plants, Ball Colegrave and Volmary — to offer a handover package to his customers so the suppliers can potentially pick up part of the £500,000 cash and carry business the nursery conducts with up to 800 customers in the South West.

Volmary representative Stephen Fones says: "As with most of the other trade shows that we attend, we are not primarily looking to take orders at the show. However, we do find that it’s a great platform to enable us to fly our flag down in the South West. 

"Being a regional show it’s great for those customers who find it difficult travelling to other shows further afield. This show is a great opportunity to talk to new and existing customers about what plants we can offer and produce for delivery for the coming season, and to showcase our new varieties. 

Ultimately, although I will take a number of orders on the stand, it’s about chatting to customers and building relationships."
Brexit implications

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis Machin will speak at the show on Brexit’s implications for horticulture. "We’re taking our time on Brexit and looking at it in the round," he says. "We’re starting to get a feel from members but until we get a clearer picture we don’t want a knee-jerk reaction. 

Employment, tariffs and import substitution are the big areas we have identified but until we get a clearer picture there’s not a lot we can do. 

We’re nervous about lobbying Government hard at this stage and we don’t want unintended consequences.

He adds that plant prices will go up as indicated by a Horticulture Week survey in August that showed 70 per cent of growers and 59 per cent of retailers will increase them in 2017 post-Brexit. But he says interest rates and exchange rates could change and it is "early days" to set out a policy on the area.

"It all comes down to overarching trade deals. It’s going to be a challenge. We’re not a big industry like aeronautical, engineering or car manufacturing so we don’t expect to be able to say to Government what will suit us. Grand lobbying gestures may not be what is needed."

Show details

South West Growers Show
When: 5 October
Where: The Matford Centre, Exeter, Devon EX2 8FD
Tel: 01404 821982

Seminar sessions

11am Brexit Raoul Curtis-Machin, head of horticulture, HTA.

12 noon Get up to Speed: Connecting Devon & Somerset — Mobile Devices & Apps for Your Business 
Discover how tablets and smartphones can help increase productivity and efficiency to transform your business. Explore the best apps to aid your daily business and home life.

2pm Get up to Speed: Connecting Devon & Somerset — Social Media
Social media is exciting if you know what you are doing. Take control of it and your digital marketing, and make it work for your business without it taking over your life. 


Exhibitor list  
Name Stand No
Agralan 69
Animal & Plant Health Agency 37
Ball Colegrave 73
BHGS Hayle 66
Bridgewater College 70
Budlake Nursery 4
Certis 57
Chamberlain Nurseries 78
Chapel Cottage Plants 77
Chartered Institute of Horticulture 59
Delamore Young Plants 49
Fargro 14
FJ Jackson & Son 96
Floramedia 7
Florensis Flower Seeds UK 61
Gedney Bulb Co 5
H Smith Plastics 26
Hawkesmill Nurseries 35
HL Hutchinson 94
Howard Nurseries 72
ICL 60
Image Retail Solutions 57a
Jelitto Perennial Seeds 64
Jiffy UK 56
Kernock Park Plants 59
Koppert UK 97
Macpac 75
Melcourt Industries 3
Moles Seeds 50
National Polytunnels 33
Oakover Nurseries 85
Pentland Plants 58
Petersfield Growing Mediums 87
Plantworks UK 41
Polybuild 99
Quinton Edwards 65
Rainbow Plants 8
Seiont Nurseries 34
Sinclair Professional 28
Smith & Jones 98
Talaton Plants 74
Trimplants 86
Tyne Moulds & Machinery 76
WeeTree Wholesale Nurseries 54
West Kington Nurseries 10
Woodbeare Nurseries 90
XL Horticulture 107
Yara UK 37
Young Plants 79

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