Have the euro's highs affected your business in the UK?

We asked exhibitors at Plantarium 2008 in Boskoop, the Netherlands, for their views on the effects of a strong euro.

NO - Susanna van Zoest, partner, Andre van Zoest (Netherlands)

"We expected it would cause problems but it hasn't so far - and we still have quite a lot of sales to the UK.

"People are still concerned about having a beautiful product and maybe they need to buy from Europe.

"We sell direct to garden centres, as well as through exporters. Transport costs are extremely high and that is the issue.

"We get around it (high transport costs) by fitting more containers on one trolley - and marketing also helps. Plenty of UK orders have been placed here at the show, too."

NO - Ken Evans, national sales director, Westland

"About 30 per cent of our sales are to the UK but because we are working on novel and unusual products it hasn't been the number-one problem.

"But I'm sure it will have a reducing effect on our US sales. On the sterling side, I predicted this over three years ago.

"Our competitiveness is based on the products we are doing; the issue is that the UK is getting worse prices but they may not be as interested.

"To me, the bigger issue is the availability of money in eastern Europe and the fact that those workers are going home."

Pat FitzGerald, managing director, FitzGerald Nurseries (Ireland) because we are a good supplier to the UK in terms of customs issues.

NO - Tina Heinje, owner, Heinje Growers (Germany)

"The euro is affecting the UK market and a lot of Europeans have lost money because of the exchange rate. But we haven't had problems this year.

"Spring did go ahead as planned; so far people aren't buying fewer plants but we just aren't getting higher prices for the plants.

"We supply a major UK retailer and it is the transport costs that make the plants more expensive to the garden centre.

"We have our own lab so we can make sure we have healthy plants and that has helped because we are a good supplier to the UK in terms of customs issues."

A LITTLE - Stephen Page, deputy managing director, Walter Blom (Netherlands)

"I have been building contacts in the UK and that side of things has been going well. The euro has had an effect but it has been relatively little because we supply the plugs.

"The impact has been far greater for growers who are shipping three- litre pots and above. They also have to deal with the transport costs.

"We are sensitive to it because our customers are looking at everything more critically. But for most customers, paying an extra 5p or 10p more because of the exchange rate gives them an advantage over the guys who are having to add it on because of transport costs."


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