GroSouth - Show Preview

This year's show is an opportunity to source the best products, network with the horticultural sector and attend seminars.

Around 130 exhibitors are taking stands at this year’s GroSouth show hosted by Roundstone Nurseries  - image: HW
Around 130 exhibitors are taking stands at this year’s GroSouth show hosted by Roundstone Nurseries - image: HW

With more than 130 exhibitors lined up, this year's GroSouth show, managed by Roundstone Nurseries in Chichester, promises the horticultural industry a forum where they can source the best products and materials for the nursery sector.

The organisers of GroSouth are determined to build on the success of the inaugural show last year to ensure that the show remains one of the best of its kind in Britain.

The show is backed by the same sponsors that supported it last year - Fargro, Young Plants and Hortipak, with Horticulture Week joining them for the first time as media partner.

Young Plants managing director Alex Newey, explains: "We have a very close relationship with Roundstone Nurseries - they're one of our major contract growers - so we wanted to support this new venture."

He believes that it is important to have a presence at the regional shows. "If we go to one of the northern shows, such as Four Oaks, we won't see many buyers from the south. So we want to be at this show so that we can see all our wholesale customers and also some retail buyers."

Newey continues: "We rarely get any firm orders at the shows, but we have to show that we are innovative and have a clear message. It's a mistake not to have a presence at the shows."

Event organiser Sarah-Jane Milbourn says: "We're really pleased with the way things are working out. We're grateful to the sponsors and all the exhibitors for helping the growth of what is fast becoming the largest horticultural show in the south of Britain."

The show is a forum where nurseries can buy all the trade supplies they need and network across the entire horticultural sector. In addition, it is starting to attract the attention of significant numbers of retailers and garden centres from the southern area.

Many stands are devoted to selling young plants and plant material for growing on, and the show is a good place to pick up bargains. Robert Davies, a partner at Davies Brothers Nursery in Burnham, will be using the show to sell surplus stock at knockdown prices.

Surplus plants

"We last came in 2010, but we were too busy to attend last year," Davies explains. "It's a very nice little show. We have a lot of surplus young plants, bedding plants and winter and hanging baskets, which we can supply next spring. We do big discounts and they can work out much cheaper than plants pre-ordered a long time in advance."

Other exhibitors hope to sell to the retailers who visit the show. Brockhill Nurseries, based in Hampshire, will be showcasing its range of around 1,000 hardy ornamental shrubs. Nursery partner Graham Meadowcroft says: "This is the first time we've been to the show.

"The GAN and Woking shows have closed down, so we needed a new outlet. We'll be offering plants in three-litre pots. We won't bring much stock to the show, but we hope it will generate orders in a few months' time when the buying season starts in earnest."

Targeting retailers

Chapel Cottage Plants from Cambridgeshire will also be targeting retailers. The firm sells around 3.5 million hardy plants a year, in oneand two-litre pots, primarily to garden centres. Director David Green says the show is "a good place to meet new customers and shake hands with old ones".

He adds: "We have a large A-Z range of plants with a full range of labelling and this is a good venue for attracting buyers in the South East."

Many of the buyers visiting the show will be looking for cheap and effective growing media. Koru Growing Technologies will be selling coir as well as containers and drainage systems. Managing director Darran Grieveson explains: "We are a branch of New Leaf Irrigation.

"We only started trading in April. We're trying to venture into sales of coir for hardy nursery stock. We'll be using the show to scope out the industry and speak to other exhibitors. We've also got a lot of interest from peat companies who are currently facing a shortage of peat." The firm will also be offering micro-irrigation systems

Fargro, one of the main sponsors, offers pesticides as well as packaging materials, containers and sundries for growers. This year, the firm is particularly promoting three bio-pesticides that are effective against various types of mildew.

Certis will also be featuring its crop-protection products range. Representative Martin Donnelly says: "We're well-known for our products for specialist crops. We have biological control products and chemicals that are particularly useful for hardy ornamentals."

He points out that many growers of protected ornamentals also produce salad crops. "We hope to cut across the sector and sell products to salad growers."

Production machinery

Other firms will be offering machinery for nursery production. Rotomation UK, based in Preston, will have a small display of seeders. Service and sales operative Philip Ashton says: "We don't have room for a lot of equipment. For us, this show is about flags and banners - we want to get our name about.

"It gives us an opportunity to meet and greet existing customers. We've been coming to this show for many years - from when it was the Southern Growers Show. Every time we've come, we've been able to create at least one new sale, so it's always worth our while coming."

National Polytunnels will also be taking a small display area at the show. Sales manager Gary Summerfield explains: "We want to build new relationships with growers, but it's also a PR exercise for existing customers.

"We're particularly keen to sell to people involved in bedding and trees. We also sell retail canopies, so we'll be interested in talking to garden centres to see whether we can help them maximise their display space."

The show also offers firms an opportunity to sell specially tailored services to the industry. Passfield Data Systems will be offering software designed around the needs of horticultural nurseries.

General manager Tim Lamb says: "Our system can be used for anything from sowing seeds to producing an invoice. It can even do simple labelling. It can be loaded and maintained remotely, so we don't have to visit nurseries to sort out software problems."

The company, which is based in Exeter, believes that its presence at the show will pay dividends. "We've developed a rather loose strategy," adds Lamb.

"Obviously, we are happy to sell to anyone, but we feel that we should direct our energies particularly towards salad producers, bedding growers and tree growers.

"We wanted to come here because our products sell well in the South West, but we'd like to improve our presence in the south-east of the country too."

Lamb is full of praise for the show. "In the past it has been very well organised - the set up was painless, it was well laid out and it all looked very professional," he notes.

"Last time we came we picked up four or five good leads, of which we converted two into firm orders. If we can do the same thing this year, we'll be very satisfied."

Show highlights Woodland Horticulture

Simon Packer, manager, Woodland Horticulture

"We sell mainly soft-landscaping materials such as bark mulches, stone aggregates and soil conditioners. We've done the bigger exhibitions but they do not pay because of all the money we have to spend on hotels. So now we do smaller satellite shows like GroSouth.

"We get to meet landscapers and nurseries and even some retailers. Nurseries often want specially formulated composts for particular plants. Many nurseries have a retail arm and will take compost in pretty bags.

"Last year we had a wonderful show. We met up with a woman from shopping channel Ideal World TV. She liked our bags of horse manure. Our manure comes from racing stables so it is very high-quality, and it is decorated with a lovely picture of a racehorse. They showed it on one of their gardening shows, where they were selling roses. They put their hands into the bag and you could see the steam coming off it.

"The following day they phoned us to say they had sold 1,008 bags - about an articulated lorry load. They've done two more promotions of our manure since then. GroSouth has been very good for us."

Show details

When: 7 November

Where: Roundstone Nurseries, Pagham Road, Lagness, Chichester, West Sussex P020 1LL


Admission: Free with online registration

Contact: Sarah-Jane Milbourn on 01243 755949

Workshops and seminars - Updates for nursery businesses

GroSouth is offering a series of workshops and seminars intended for anyone involved in the nursery business:

11am Getting the Best From Your Sprayer

John Adlam of Dove Associates will be presenting a practical workshop for users of knapsack and powered trolley sprayers. It will cover topics such as product mixing, sprayer cleaning, sprayer calibration and appropriate use of adjuvants. The presentation will last an hour and is registered for BASIS points for continuing professional development.

10am and 1pm IPM: A Technical Update

Fargro will describe some of the latest developments in bio-pesticides. These include a fungus called AQ10 that attacks powdery mildew and another one, T34, which grows in compost, giving protection against a wide range of damping-off diseases. It also induces systemic resistance to a range of folia diseases.

10am and 2pm Nursery Tours: Anaerobic Digestion

Local company Barfoot Energy, which is based in Bognor Regis, supplies services to growers developing anaerobic digestion systems. It will be running tours of a nearby operation. Places are limited so please call 01243 755949/01243 755951 to book in advance. Roundstone Nurseries will also be running tours of its nursery throughout the day. Meanwhile, Dummen will also be holding poinsettia trials on site.

Show highlights GASA Young Plants UK

Simon Davenport, sales consultant, GASA Young Plants UK (part of the Danish GASA group)

"We supply a vast range of plugs - just about everything from Christmas trees to bedding plants. We don't have any real speciality but I suppose our best-known lines are things like dahlias and osteospermums. We are also offering a good range of echinacea and some really attractive introductions such as Dicentra Burning Hearts.

"We see this as an exercise in 'flying the flag'. We rarely win new customers, but that's not our aim. We think of the show as a good place to meet up with our existing clients and to cement our relationships with them.

"The show gives us the opportunity to talk to them in a relaxed setting, discuss their needs and see how we can serve them. We can also discuss their plans for the future - to see whether they've got any promotions and how our products might fit in.

"Attending GroSouth is a very efficient use of our time.

It's only down the road to our headquarters and we get to meet large numbers of clients in one place. We can also discuss sales and compare our products with the competition."

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