Exhibitors prepare for British Plant Fair

Nurseries exhibiting at this year's event are looking ahead to a good year after a promising start.

A new exhibitor at next month's British Plant Fair will be looking to build on a promising start to the year by showcasing a new line.

Norwich-based Viking Nurseries will be promoting its small conifers in response to growing demand from garden centres. "We'll be looking at launching a new line of 1.4-litre conifers," says sales representative Fabio Guizzo. "There's a big market for small conifers."

Viking Nurseries' overall sales are up 20-30 per cent so far this year, according to Guizzo. "We had an early start to the year because of the mild weather, though it has slowed down because of the snow in the past few weeks," he says. But despite the recent dip, Guizzo expects February 2012 sales to be twice what they were in the same month last year.

Why has Viking Nurseries decided to make its debut? "It's a good time of year - garden centres are looking for plants for their spring sales," says Guizzo. Viking will also be using the fair to promote its new cold store, which enables its rhododendrons to "flower throughout the spring", according to Guizzo.

Wyevale Nurseries will be showing a "range of nursery stock with a number of special offers", says managing director Steve Ashworth. "We're keen to promote to the nursery trade - this is often eclipsed by the pitch to garden centres." Wyevale will promote trees in containers and field-grown trees and shrubs at the fair, he adds.

"We've been surprised by how recession-proof the general nursery stock market is," he says. "It (trade) has been better than expected and on a par with previous years, though there has been a hit on big-ticket items."

Ashworth adds that evergreens and laurels are in short supply. "If you've got them, they are selling well."

Bransford Webbs Plant Company managing director Geoff Caesar, who organises the fair, says the year "kicked-off nice and strong" from a sales perspective. Primulas, camellias, aubretia and coronet apple trees are selling well to retailers, he adds.

Caesar says the market is "looking good" because retailers have low stock levels after a mild autumn. "We have about the same number of exhibitors as last year and a lot of people are coming back year after year," he adds.

Quality Ornamentals general manager Paul Brooking says the year started relatively well for January and sales of primroses, in particular, have been good. "Since then, it has been a lot quieter because of the weather," he notes. "But as soon as the weather warms up, trade will warm up too."

Show details

When: 1 March, 10am-3pm

Where: Hall One, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire

Website: www.britishplantfair.co.uk.

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