Tough times hit landscapers hard

Firms around country facing hardship

Landscape companies are “battening down the hatches” for winter after Landmark Design & Build went into receivership last week. The Chertsey-based firm, which had a show garden at the Chelsea flower show for the first time this year, Shrewsbury landscaper Severn Vale Contracts, Liverpool firm EH Williams Environmental and Jeremy Simmons, a Bristol landscaper, have all got into difficulties in recent weeks, says British Association of Landscape Industries new chief executive David Spencer. He said: “The industry is going through a consolidation phase – batten down the hatches.” He added that a disguised ‘pay when paid’ clause was also hitting cash flow at some landscapers. “A major contractor has been putting clauses in so that if the client gets into difficulties, they’re not liable to pay the sub-contractor. As a consequence, Severn Vale — one of BALI’s largest companies — fell. It’s the old, outlawed ‘pay when paid’ clause in disguise. We are lobbying the Government and advising members to read through contracts very carefully,” said Spencer. “People like Landmark director Mark Gregory had to pay suppliers and were waiting an extended time to get their money and the two don’t meet. Mark is one of the most respected people in our industry and to see him in difficulties like that is devastating.” Spencer said insurance costs had brought down EH Williams, with some BALI members paying £3 cover per employee per hour.

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