Will rising fuel prices affect your business?

YES: "Yes, of course, because it will affect heating costs. But we have installed a woodburner, which is our way of fighting the rise in fuel prices.

"We will mainly feel the effect on transport costs and will need to add the pennies on to some of our sales, mainly our plug plants. But prices are sensitive. People are not generally prepared to pay more for the product. The horticulture industry as a whole doesn't seem to be able to put prices up. This situation can't be maintained forever.

"Fortunately, we have long term contracts with transport and delivery companies."

- Bruce Harnett, managing director, Kernock Park Plants

NO: "Our company is one stage removed from this issue because we use transport supplied by Dutch companies. They use a sliding scale on fuel and have a surcharge. So for us it is not a problem at the moment.

"We are seeing customers growing poinsettias having to change growing conditions. They are using temperature integration and lower set points to reduce fuel use. They are having to manipulate heating and venting systems.

"The HDC is doing trials on this, which may help the smaller growers who tend not to have temperature integration systems."

- Simon Davenport, managing director, Hollyacre Plants

NO: "Our fuel costs have actually decreased this year. We have been more efficient, ensuring that our wagons are sent out full for every trip and our outside transport carries full trolleys.

"The main problem in retail is the downward price pressure - although I believe garden centre customers would be prepared to pay for good quality products.

"We are in the supply chain with major retailers and cutting prices can't always be at our expense. Also, labour costs keep going up. However, having said that, we have managed to keep our prices the same as last year and the year before that."

- Neil Alcock, nursery manager, Seiont Nurseries

YES: "We mainly deliver locally in the South East. This keeps our fuel costs lower than those who distribute nationally.

"However, we are still affected by rising fuel prices. We try to limit our mileage per day. We have done an environmental costing at the nursery and have looked at all our costs with the aim of reducing water and energy use. We have managed to cut costs that way.

"Our Nature's Plants unit already uses a green-mile limit for delivery of those plants we market as 'locally sourced'."

- Garry Winwood, owner, Saxon Plants (Stone Cross Nurseries).


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