Brands cut for B&Q's own-label

Verve name to appear on all plants as retailer begins a three-year plan to consolidate suppliers.

B&Q has axed five plant suppliers to consolidate supply - image: B&Q
B&Q has axed five plant suppliers to consolidate supply - image: B&Q

B&Q is slashing the number of brands it stocks to make way for own-label products, including price-matched peat and peat-free growing media.

Verve is the new name on all of B&Q's plants. Horticulture trading manager Steve Guy said losing five suppliers including Farplants and Pinetops "consolidated" supply.

In other categories, brand names would either go or be halved, he added. Compost is now only sourced from Scotts and own-label from Bord na Mona. Guy said dropping Sinclair for Scotts' peat-free was a move designed to allow B&Q to price-match peat and peat-free products across its range at three 60-litre bags for £10.

It involved a cost to the company, he conceded, with industry experts estimating the figure at £2m. The chain would not promote names the public did not know, he added.

MacAllister is the chosen garden machinery and tools brand, while Blooma - launched last year - has been extended as a name for outdoor living. B&Q is sourcing much of this product direct from China and using only a few best-in-brand suppliers.

Guy said the three-year plan to get rid of brands in favour of own-label was in its first year. "Across the whole of B&Q, it's important we back leading brands and support our own label."

On plants and propagation, he added: "There are no brands so everything is our own-label."

The move brings buying power, volume, efficiency and helps suppliers produce one product across Europe with six or seven languages on the pack, Guy explained.

Coletta & Tyson is now strategic plant supplier, replacing five smaller growers that B&Q dropped in 2011. Guy said: "It makes sense to consolidate with stronger suppliers. It's not all about money. A lot is about efficiency. You could argue it helps manage cost." There were no more plans for consolidation in 2012, he added.

B&Q's face of gardening Alan Titchmarsh is in the last year of a multimillion-pound three-year deal to promote the chain. Guy praised Titchmarsh's "honesty" on peat, admitting that its use was becoming the biggest taboo in horticulture.

The Government has asked garden centres to voluntarily stop peat sales by 2020, but Guy said the only way to crack peat-free was with legislation. "When consumers demand something it is difficult for retailers to go out on a limb without an impact on business".

B&Q ditched busy Lizzies after they were hit by downy mildew and Guy did not expect his best-selling plant to return to the shelves until 2014. "You can spray excessively but that's not what we are about."

Industry View

Danny Adamson, retail managing director, William Sinclair Horticulture

"Full marks to retailers such as B&Q and Garden Centre Group that are price-matching on peat and peat-free. That represents a considerable investment because everyone knows it's more expensive to make and supply peat-free."

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