Suppliers aiming to fill void left by Solus face tough competition

'There is almost an oversupply,' warns former Sinclair and Karcher manager Danny Adamson.

Solus: brands bought by Scotts after firm went into administration
Solus: brands bought by Scotts after firm went into administration

Garden retailers are playing off suppliers of manufactured garden goods aiming to take up business from the garden industry’s biggest supplier/wholesaler Solus, former Sinclair and Karcher manager Danny Adamson has said.

Solus, once a £90m turnover business, went into administration in May 2014 before Scotts bought its bird care, tools and other brands.

"My concern for the industry is there is almost an oversupply," said Adamson. "You can grab anything from China. Everyone is trading with everyone else and retailers are playing them off against each other.

"There is too much competition, which makes it very difficult for manufacturers. You need a USP and genuine innovation or it’s just a battle for the bottom. Everyone is trying to add value — it’s a question of holding your nerve when doing that."

Garden Industry Manufacturers Association (GIMA) chief executive Vicky Nuttall said: "There is a lot of competition out there and things are tough, and obviously people like Scotts, Smart Solar and Crest are competing at that level.

"We’re keen to encourage lots of smaller businesses to come in. A lot of GIMA members are smaller with innovative product so we’re keen to help them. Distribution is going to be key in that. Toolbank is making a play and there’s Decco and Stax."

Companies have withdrawn from negotiations with a big retailer, Westland has not tendered for Wyevale’s compost account, Suttons has withdrawn from the same retailer and Gardman has left B&Q.

Gardman was 21 per cent up in January-March, mainly "picked up from Solus", according to Steve Harper.

Former Gardman marketing director Jane Lawler said: "While there’s not many big brands, there’s lots of people with product. For instance, bamboo canes was just Gardman and is now lots of different people. In traded categories there’s a lot of competition. The market has changed since Solus went and the question is how to get in store. Decco doesn’t take up the slack of Solus going."

Bosmere sales and marketing director Steve Millington said: "With Solus gone, we’ve all picked up share of their market. But it’s true the established brands will continue to grow and small companies will fall by the wayside. We’ve seen massive growth through the last year because of the demise Solus."

GIMA - Buyer event

The Garden Industry Manufacturers Association is holding a buyer connect event with Wyevale Garden Centres on 8 July and plans to have around 15 retailers set up for meetings with suppliers at Glee 2015.

Scotts, which bought Solus in July 2014, is relaunching the Solus Chapelwood bird care brand. Scotts said Chapelwood sales fell by 50 per cent in 2014 while Solus’s future was in doubt.

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