British exhibitors at spoga+ gafa in Cologne (8-10 September) believe parts of Eastern Europe have a massive growth opportunity for garden retail.
Retail suppliers say nations such as Poland and the Czech Republic are particularly strong. In contrast, western countries such as Spain and Portugal have weakened markets due to recession.
Stewart Plastics has been going to the show for seven years. Its garden export business is up 55 per cent year-on-year, a figure that has nearly doubled over two years. Sales director Nigel Thompson said: "It could be double or even quadruple what it is. British gardening is well respected and overseas our targets and expectations are definitely high."
Briers managing director Jackie Eades said: "The export market is a relatively small proportion of our turnover so it presents an excellent opportunity for growth."
Allett Mowers attended spoga+gafa for the first time this year. Managing director Austin Jarrett said: "This year the Czech Republic has been a bigger export market than Germany for us, despite being a smaller country."
Export sales at Allett Mowers fell from 32 to 13.5 per cent this year, which Jarrett attributed to weakened markets in Spain and Portugal. The company hopes to develop in Ukraine and Kazakhstan as countries that are quickly gaining middle-class wealth.
Other retail market suppliers identified Eastern Europe as a target for this year's show. Bosmere export manager Debbie Curtis said: "We have identified Poland as a developing market. They have had a bad time money-wise in the past, but now Joe Public is able to spend more."
Suppliers have said developing the export market takes time and a continued presence at trade shows.
This year marked Bosmere's 31st year at the show. It received an award last year after attending for 30 years. Curtis said it takes a little while to build up relationships with partners and it is crucial to keep in regular contact. "You do eventually get somewhere," she added.
Thompson said: "If you want to create a presence in Europe and beyond you have to make a commitment to go to these shows. It is a slow and hard process."
Number of trade visitors at spoga+gafa, from 116 countries - there were 1,817 exhibitors, including 700 in the garden furniture sector - 36,800 Trade visitors.