Garden products supplier highlights new offerings and marketing as top priorities

Ross Yealland, son of company owner Simon Yealland, takes up role as commercial director at Solus Garden & Leisure.

Davies: diversification is crucial - image: Solus
Davies: diversification is crucial - image: Solus

Solus Garden & Leisure is set to concentrate further on new products and marketing after owner Simon Yealland's son Ross took over as commercial director.

Managing director Nick Davies scotched rumours that he was to leave by saying Yealland will revamp.

After three senior sales staff left, Andy Roe (garden centre independents) and Andy Abraham (national accounts) are working their notice, while brand marketing manager Colin Smart has left to join the Scottish retailer Greenfingers.

Davies said: "They have gone, which is a shame, and when people leave it can unsettle the nerves. Ross Yealland is now overseeing our brand development, revising the marketing strategy, updating the website and rebranding the showrooms. We have to invest as the competition becomes more aggressive."

Davies added that he has not thought of leaving the business, where he has been for almost 30 years, because "there is still a hell of a lot to do".

He pointed out that after two "challenging" years, "de-risking and diversifying to sell product not reliant on the sunshine" is crucial.

The lifestyle category will be relaunched in October, he said, with leisure, humour and department store touchstones for the range.

Davies said gardening-related product sales have fallen but bird care has increased, meaning 2013 is likely to be level or slightly above 2012 by the end of the financial year in September. June was 15 per cent up on 2012, he added.

Solus has struck a deal with management specialist Foods to supply bird food for its ChapelWood Wildlife Care brand.

Solus Key supplier

The £100m-turnover Solus supplies garden centres, B&Q, Tesco, Homebase, Wilkinson and Amazon with own brands such as Yeoman Tools, Joseph Bentley Heritage Tools, Botanico, Bermuda and ChapelWood as well as distributed brands including Scotts Miracle-Gro, Cuprinol, Fiskars and Bayer.

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