BPOA events spark mixed predictions

Delegates at the British Protected Ornamentals Association conference discuss key issues.

Delegates at the British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) conference heard a cooler assessment of the impact the diamond jubilee and the Olympics will have on retail sales this season.

Thanks in part to restricted access to his group's outlets during a key sporting event, Squires managing director Dennis Espley predicted that the impact of both events for the firm would be negative overall, despite a positive outlook across the industry.

"The jubilee weekend will probably be negative to us on the whole, because people will spend a little less time in the garden," he said. "There might be a bit of preparation for parties, but that's often overplayed. On bank holiday weekends, when people get an extra day they'll go abroad, so it doesn't always work as you think it will. We're not going to spend any extra money on product on the basis of the bank holiday weekend."

He said the Olympics would have a limited effect because of the time of year. "I can't see it having any effect on bedding plants, and it will be negative overall. We will be affected as a business because six of our centres are near the cycling route and we have limited access. I reckon some of our centres will lose a percent in the annual turnover."

But other industry figures predicted a significant boost from the two events.

Ball Colegrave marketing manager Stuart Lowen said: "Orders are up on last year, which is not where we expected to be because of the impatiens issue."

He added: The jubilee and the Olympics have come at the right time to save the industry. It has prompted interest in other varieties that come in red, white, blue and gold. Sales are up across all alternatives to impatiens - it's a good opportunity for them."

Writer Peter Seabrook said: "The next 12 months will be the most marvellous year ever for the industry."

Squires centres - Six sites on Olympic route

The Olympic cycling road race starts in London on The Mall, before riders head across Putney Bridge to Richmond and Twickenham. The Surrey section will pass through Weybridge, Woking, Guildford and Dorking, and after a lap of Box Hill, back through Leatherhead and Esher.

Squires has garden centres at Twickenham, Shepperton, Badshot Lea, Hersham, Chertsey, Woking, Windsor, West Horsley, Crawley, Reigate and Long Ditton.

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