Garden centres to blame for poor rose promotion, according to speakers at meeting of HTA's British Rose Group

Garden retailers are to blame for rose sales not increasing as much as they should be, the HTA's British Rose Group (BRG) heard recently at David Austin Roses in Albrighton, Shropshire.

More than 30 rose growers and retailers, including representatives from Pococks Roses, Fryers Roses, Handley Rose Nurseries, CW Groves & Sons, David Austin Roses, Wych Cross Nurseries, Country Garden Plant Centre, John Woods Nurseries, Aylett Nurseries, Whartons Nurseries, Secretts Garden Centre, Parkside Nursery and Curbishleys Roses, attended the meeting to discuss plans for promoting roses in 2010 and tour the plant centre, nursery and rose garden at David Austin Roses.

Growers and retailers reported a good year for the sales of roses — particularly by those who had put effort into creating dedicated displays. Ayletts Nurseries used the HTA's Plant of the Month point of sale materials to provide a display — which resulted in a 12 per cent increase in sales for June (and 23 per cent year-to-date). Fryers bought new bed cards and stronger bed ends which along with their promotion of the rose of the year and tours of their nurseries, helped them to achieve a 24 per cent uplift in sales in the year-to-date.

David Austin Roses said its events programme including regular pruning demonstrations, design days, mixed planting workshops and tours of their greenhouses and rose garden helped sales.

But the group agreed that garden centres could sell more roses if garden centre staff kept better care of them.

They said specialist independent garden centres have the expertise to give roses the attention they need but some of the larger outlets and chains do not and as a result their rose displays look very poor.

Pococks Roses owner Stuart Pocock said: "It is essential that garden centres look after their roses so that the public see them in the very best condition and are encouraged to buy them."

Wharton Roses representative Carl Wilson said growers have a role in helping to educate garden retailers and he advocates the use of a simple ‘how to care' leaflet attached to every trolley that goes out to emphasise the point.

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said the BRG would calculate the added sales (versus the cost) that could be achieved by retailers that put in the effort on spraying and maintenance.

Wych Cross Nurseries representative John Paisley said: "We need to provide the public with a realistic view of roses. They can be challenging but they are definitely worth it. It is our responsibility to provide the consumer with the information and confidence to buy roses."

Wych Cross Nurseries use displays of single species of rose to produce focal points and also list last years top 20 sellers, last month's top ten sellers and last weeks top five sellers which help customers to make confident purchases.

The group felt that the majority of garden writers continue to focus on the old varieties of roses and that more should be done to promote the new varieties, especially the Gold Standard roses. This would help create demand from consumers for new varieties encouraging more garden centres to update their own stock lists.

The group came up with a number of ideas for promotions in 2010 alongside the continuing show activity:

  • Continued development and promotion of the Rose Locator, which lists 1,500 rose varieties and includes listings of suppliers to the public
  • Production of a merchandising guide for retailers with ideas on the best ways to focus on roses
  • A media day in spring 2010 on roses to highlight the new varieties available
  • A media campaign aimed at the marginal gardener — based on the nostalgia and romance of the rose
  • Highlight the versatility of the rose
  • With grow your own likely to continue as a key theme in 2010 there is the opportunity to promote the rose as a centre piece within a kitchen garden.
  • With smaller gardens people are looking for ideas of what to plant alongside roses so consider a companion planting display.
  • Maximise the opportunities presented by celebration roses, living gift displays and value added roses in pots.



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