Butters Group extends into growing

Pot-plant packaging group invests £700,000 into development of flower packing unit and nursery.

Pot-plant packaging company Butters Group is entering the growing sector in a £700,000 move that will create 40 jobs.

The company will also move into flower packing to provide a one-stop shop for flowers, bulbs and plants to customers such as Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer, B&Q and Asda. Butters hopes to reduce the amount of plants it imports by growing its own.

Butters has spent £400,000 developing a hi-tech flower packing house producing bouquet lines for supermarkets and home deliveries, plus a further £300,000 on refurbishing and extending the redundant Westside flower nursery for bedding plants and potted bulbs.

The nursery will produce an initial 1.5 million units a year under grower Pete Hicks, who has 25 years' experience at companies including PA Moerman and Lucksbridge Horticulture.

He is supported by five full-time staff and up to 20 casual workers.

Butters managing director Andy Coaten said: "It will effectively give us complete control over the quality and supply of products to our packhouse."

The company's new 2,300sq m flower packing house in Spalding employs 25 staff to process and pack flowers sourced from Kenya, Colombia and Holland, along with home-grown varieties.

Coaten added: "At each of the two divisions, we will focus on creative concepts."

Chairman's view

"Butters is the largest supplier of plants to the supermarket sector. The purpose of the move is to grow product we would otherwise have to buy.

"We have a good group of 35 Lincolnshire growers, who will supply the bulk of what we sell. We will be cutting what we buy in, mainly from Holland. This gives us total supply chain, quality and environmental control and enables us to add a margin.

"We'll be growing cyclamen, spring bedding, geraniums and more. We plan to use the glasshouse to the maximum. We live off our creativity. We're always looking for new plants and packaging around the world."

Jeff Hooper, chairman, Butters.

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