Code helps to air trading issues

Code of good trading practice has 'prompted discussion and provided food for thought for growers'.

Plants and flowers: awareness raised over need for fairer contracts
Plants and flowers: awareness raised over need for fairer contracts

Six months on from the launch of the British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) code of good trading practice for plants and flowers, growers have said it is helping to voice concerns of contractual issues.

The NFU, BPOA and HTA are now sending a joint letter to DIYs and large garden centre chains to raise the issueof trading practice directly.

Blue Ribbon Plants owner Walter Back said: "The code has made people aware of the situation about growers needing fairer contracts. It must have had an effect."

How much to grow is a "nightmare to guess", he added. "No-one seems to want to commit to buy free stock. After two terrible years they don't want to commit."

WD Smith director Michael Smith said: "I hope it helps. It's always good to have that discussion buzzing around. I'm sure it has a positive effect. But I'm not dealing with these bigger chains so I don't really have these sort of issues.

BPOA chairman Ian Riggs aded: "It's prompted discussion and has provided food for thought for growers."

But Burston Nurseries business manager Paul Young said: "It's too late this year but going forward it could be a valuable tool in relationships between growers and retailers." He added: "We need a lot more awareness and dialogue to bring it out into the open."

Bryants Nurseries director Richard Bryant said: "We're not really involved. It's big retailers where that impacts. But I do know about the code of practice. It's a good way forward, I'm sure, but it's not affecting us."

Bransford Webbs managing director and HTA ornamentals committee chairman Geoff Caesar said: "We're not dismissive of the code of practice at all, but we pretty much negotiated the terms at the back end of last year and no-one is trying to renege on any terms. No-one is asking for more at the moment and everyone is taking what they reserved so far."

Will good sales reported in March lead to plant shortages further down the line?

"We move from one crop to another and don't grow loads of just one crop. All our ceanothus went in March, which is good considering that it's an April-flowering plant."

Geoff Caesar, managing director, Bransford Webbs

"I can't see shortages at the moment. It depends on that first bank holiday in May. If the weather continues there may be some challenges going into mid May, but it's a crystal ball thing. We have good production.

Richard Bryant, director, Bryants Nurseries

"It's good to be this position where we have production space. We're a bit above with sales in the bank. It's a nice starting point for us."

Michael Smith, director, WD Smith

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