Green products are not selling well in the recession, Dobbies tells garden industry audience

Dobbies chief executive James Barnes told an audience of garden centre professionals last week that since the recession started, the "dial" on green products has been "turned down".

In response to a question from Garden Organic's Bob Sherman on whether the recession had hit the green push by garden centres, Barnes told last week's HTA Garden Futures conference in London: "In these circumstances the dial on that [green products] is definitely turned down. We trialled products and the reaction has been muted."

He said "economics coming to the fore" had affected Dobbies "long term desire" to sell sustainable products such as heat pumps, solar panels and insulation.

Dobbies Peterbough unveiled an exclusive eco-living department, and backing from EDF Energy in 2011. Dobbies Aberdeen has a similar 150sqm department which opened in 2010.

Barnes added that 2012 had allowed Dobbies to look deeper at what its business is about.

He said discounting the effect of the weather, garden centres are running at 15 per cent below where they were in 2005, and that that has "fundamentally changed our industry".

He said this shift in consumer attitudes was behind Dobbies "looking to reinvent ourselves."

This will mean a move towards value "everyday low prices across the board" to "appeal to a broader church". He also wants to carry on "radically" cutting stock keeping units from the current 75,000.

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