Suttons Consumer Products' operating profits rise steeply

Suttons Consumer Products has seen operating profits shoot up 179% to £567,000 in the year to the end of July 2016 and is handing out £500 staff bonuses.

Heritage Vegetable range "extremely popular" with retailers
Heritage Vegetable range "extremely popular" with retailers

Managing director David Robinson said big investments over the past 12 months in IT systems and processes had improved efficiency and nudged up gross margin to 44.9%.

The business had focused on product development and innovation, not just in seeds but Suttons' range of plants and equipment. Packet seeds now represented just 30% of total sales.

Meanwhile, the company recently acquired the Ascott smallholders supplies business, which would provide new ranges of products for the Dobies Group scheme partners.

Further company acquisitions were being "actively pursued" and Robinson hoped to improve the range of products and services to both direct customers and retail partners.

On plants he said: "There is rising awareness of the importance of diet to human health and increasing knowledge of the beneficial effects of specific nutrients.

"A research scientist has been appointed to work closely with Exeter University, analysing nutrient levels in various conventionally bred crops."

Suttons recently launched four tomatoes with high levels of the antioxidant lycopene as part of a new range of James Wong plants to tap into growing interest in healthy Mediterranean diets.

"Retailer interest in these and other new plant introductions has been very high, with initial sell-ins to independent garden centres up nearly 40% on last year."

Rob Smith who won the BBC Big Allotment challenge joined the company and his new range of plants, including a Heritage Vegetable range, was "extremely popular" with retailers. Sales jumped.

Also new to the company this year was Gavin Shaw who was taken on to spearhead expansion of Suttons' perennial, tree and shrub ranges.

"Gavin’s knowledge and contacts with independent breeders and nurseries has already enabled us to obtain the rights to several brand new, exclusive products, as well as to increase our online range."

Robinson insisted Suttons continued to reject online discounting of packeted seeds as a marketing tool, concentrating instead on providing year-round value for money on all products.

"Current trading in both retail and direct is encouraging and with the continuing support of staff, suppliers and customers the business remains optimistic for future organic and acquisition growth."

On corporate social responsibility he said the company was committed to reducing waste and had avoided the wastage of over one million packs of seed in the past 12 months alone.

Solar panels had generated over 300,000kwh of electricity over the year, saving well over 100 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Suttons worked with a number of charities and operated online and catalogue trading operations for two major UK charities, netting £250,000 in the past 12 months alone.

And in recognition of the contribution of staff this year every permanent employee had been given a £500 bonus, double last year’s £250, said Robinson.

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