How will your organisation fare next year?

HW asked visitors and exhibitors at last week's Oatridge Conference.

James Hepburne Scott, sales director, Alba Trees "We are always to some extent dependent on the current grant regime. There has been a long wait while European funding for native woodland planting was sorted out, but now the English Woodland Grant Scheme is telling applicants to go ahead and plant anyway. There is a backlog of pent-up planting there.

"Beyond that, the Forestry Commission has just proposed planting 23,000 hectares each year for the next 40 years, leading to a four per cent increase in tree cover the UK. That's pretty exciting for a tree nursery." 


Stuart Simpson, regional director, Ashlea Landscapes "The private housing sector isn't moving, but there's a lot more social housing being built and that can be good-value work for us. When it's being funded by the government or by Europe, you have more guarantee of being paid.

"Aside from that, it's becoming more difficult to get your money on time and you may have to take a hit. Many civil engineering and building companies have made staff redundant but still have the overheads. They are seeing what they can get away with."

Dr Margaret Norton, horticulture programme leader, Scottish Agricultural College "We will be opening a £200,000 glasshouse development for horticultural education early in the new year and will also be entering a show garden in the Chelsea Flower Show.

"While the University of Reading has cancelled its horticulture degree because of low numbers, we are thriving, providing a nationwide resource that other Scottish land-based colleges feed into. It's integrated rather than competitive.

"We have made courses applicable to the industry's needs. In fact, we are finding it hard to hold on to students until they graduate."


Stan Green, managing director, Growforth "I think it will be more of the same, with the garden centre market holding steady. With the strength of the euro, we have taken only a third as much stock from the Continent as we used to and I can't see a big change in the rate in the short to medium term.

"We will have to be geared up to react very quickly to the demands of the retail sector. We used to try to pre-empt demand by holding onto stock, but now will be pulling stock through as quickly as possible."

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