Survey reveals business optimism

Association of Professional Landscapers polls members on business outlook over the next year.

Shows: media focus on the consumer side rather than garden design - image: HW
Shows: media focus on the consumer side rather than garden design - image: HW

Landscapers are optimistic about the next 12 months in business, according to a member survey published last week.

More than 70 per cent of those who responded to the first Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) members quarterly survey ranked business in the next 12 months as above average.

When asked: "How do you feel about the outlook for your business(es) for the next six and 12 months, with one being very negative and seven being very positive?" nobody said they felt "very negative" with only one person giving a score of one.

Most respondents (14) said they are "very positive" about the next six months, with 10 each giving a score of six or seven for positivity over the next 12 months.

The majority saw "not much change" between the volume and value of enquires during the last quarter but did record an improvement on this time last year. However, those with turnover of more than £1m said both the volume and value of enquiries were "considerably more".

The survey included data from the Office of National Statistics, Bank of England, AA and Environment Agency. It showed a sharp rise in the major purchase index, measuring consumer buying attitudes, between September and November 2014, a drop in unemployment and the cost of fuel.

Housing completions remain at a low level, although the number of completions has risen slightly since 2013. The number of mortgage approvals also dropped between January and October 2014 after rising steadily throughout 2013.

The Environment Agency predicted "a low forecast level of risk of water shortages for the 2015 season".

The survey also reported media coverage of the sector, although this was limited to television shows. However, the report noted that the media is a "weak market driver" because "garden shows are more consumer-focused rather than specific to garden design".

The APL Market Update report will be updated quarterly. It covers economic data and industry news. The "at-a-glance" report is presented in two sections - part one covers the state of trade, economic updates and industry news, while part two focuses on a specific topic of interest to landscapers.

HTA market information manager David Denny said: "We are really excited to provide this new tailored resource for landscapers and designers. We want to give APL members the market information they need to save costs and increase sales, and we hope that this will be a useful first step."

- See

Hire fees - Rates paid by APL membership

The report also collected data from members about hire fees. It showed that average daily rates paid by landscapers are:

- 0.8-tonne micro digger £75

- Three-tonne digger £98

- Rough-terrain telehandler £86

- Cement mixer £20

- Powered wheelbarrow £36

- Hydraulic breaker £31

- Whacker plate £29

- Rotavator £42

- Eight/14 yard skip £175/£248

The sample size was between five and 30 people, depending on the question.

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