Garden centres see sales climb

June figures show a 17 per cent rise but wet weather leaves year to date lagging by 3.6 per cent.

Business reporting a drop in sales over the past year after the wettest June since 1910 - image: HW
Business reporting a drop in sales over the past year after the wettest June since 1910 - image: HW

June was 17 per cent up in garden centres, but the year to date is still 3.6 per cent down, according to latest figures from the Garden Centre Association.

Squire's managing director Dennis Espley said: "Things have picked up in June. But we're moving on the plan for 2013 and putting a dreadful one-off year behind us."

At Blue Diamond Group, operations manager Nick Jones said: "June was flat compared to June 2011." Cooks Garden Centre owner Paul Cook added that his sales were flat like-for-like in the wettest June since records began in 1910.

The weather has taken a chunk out of nursery plant sales, with many businesses down on last year.

Meanwhile, growers exhibiting at this year's HTA National Plant Show said they were between two and 18 per cent down on last year.

Farplants sales manager Tim Jacob reported that the company was 10 per cent down on budget and two per cent down on last year. "It has been a struggle and the weather has hit us. We were never going to recover after the April weather - April is 20 percent of our turnover."

Peter Eastwood Plants said it is four per cent down. "It's a shame when you put all that effort into being ahead," said owner Peter Eastwood.

Bridge Nursery partner Pete Lodge added: "We have our peak in April on the herbaceous side, and that was the worst month. Over the past few years herbaceous has been strong, but we are 14 per cent down this year."

New Place Nurseries sales director Steven Lee said: "We are only two per cent down, but our costs are up. No one could have predicted the weather. It's not about price, it's all about impulse and the garden centres are losing that to other things."

Meanwhile, an RHS survey of 20 growers has found 95 per cent are struggling to find skilled British job applicants, with 70 per cent employing more foreign skilled labour than five years ago.

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