Early season means June sales challenge

Growers report that large spring gains are receding as poorer weather hits sales but say the football World Cup could help.

Garden centres: weather will be major influence on plant purchases - image: HW
Garden centres: weather will be major influence on plant purchases - image: HW

June and July garden plant sales may struggle to match last year because the season is so far ahead - but the football World Cup could help.

Growers say large spring gains are receding as poorer weather and matching last year's summer success come into play.

But Farplants marketing manager Neil Robertson said trade, which has been "pretty good generally" this season, could actually benefit from the World Cup. "Fellas will be drinking beer and the ladies might be taking the plastic down the garden centre."

Wimbledon fortnight is traditionally one of the worst times of the year because, anecdotally, women who buy lots of plants watch the tennis, he added. But the football "is not necessarily a bad thing for the trade" and the weather will be more of an influence, said Robertson.

He added that seasonal plants have done better than hardy nursery stock at Farplants and across the trade this year and new customer Waitrose is "showing encouraging signs" for the supplier.

Bransford Webbs managing director Geoff Caesar said: "We're now into summer colour. Everything is a couple of weeks early. In 2013 we were selling May stocks in June because things were so late. But we were selling June stocks before the end of May this year so it would be difficult to do the same in June and July as in 2013. Our stock will be gone.

"If you're 15 or 20 per cent up at the start of the season it's going to close up because you have only enough crop to do the same as last year or a few per cent up."

He said early stock went "really well" and now plants such as osteospermum and penstemon are selling early.

HTA operations head Martin Simmons predicted that the weather will have more of an impact than the football on late-season sales. It is "turning out to be a very good year" after early pent-up demand and good weather, he added. But even after poorer recent weather he expects sales to remain "reasonable" into the summer.

Growforth managing director Stan Green said: "If we can get a good tail to the retail season it will make all the difference. We had a pretty good start but if it falls like a stone that's not so good. If there's a decent tail, great, but it's all weather-dependent. We used to get very nervous about the World Cup but are less so now."

Summer sports

- Wimbledon Championships (tennis): 23 June to 6 July

- FIFA World Cup (football): 12 June to 13 July


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