Focus holds relationship-building event

Focus says its "co-operative"-style AGMs with growers are unique and are helping to build relationships between DIY and garden retailers and suppliers.

Planting buyer Gerrard Smith said of last week's event at Tamworth, where suppliers and buyers met then played each other at football: "Focus is getting all its suppliers together and working with them. They tell me it's all unique. We're like a family, in essence, working as a co-operative."

Growers including Langard, Tully Nurseries, RA Meredith, Baas, Garden Centre Plants, Chessum, Plant Sarus and Dee Ree and suppliers including Scotts and Sinclair were at the event.

Delegates discussed marketing and labelling, growing media and distribution. Reaseheath College representatives spoke on trials and collaborations. The HTA spoke about reducing costs in the supply chain.

Smith said sales were up by more than 10 per cent this year with particular growth in nursery, bedding, fruit and vegetables and growing media.

He said due to the impact of the new Payless range, sales had grown in growing media, roses and nursery stock, with the Payless palm a top performer.

Tully marketing and export manager Niamh Tully said: "The conference was fantastic for building good team spirit and for generating new ideas. I was very impressed by the effort Gerrard personally has been making behind the scenes in improving Focus' good name in gardening and making Focus a force to be reckoned in competing against the other chains and groups."

Focus has dropped its premium label for 2010.

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