Growers' cooperative planned by Landgard

Plant supplier to offer fixed contracts and timely payment terms as it reveals plans for European-style grower cooperative.

Landgard...attacked some DIY sheds for "appalling" behaviour
Landgard...attacked some DIY sheds for "appalling" behaviour

Landgard is planning to create a European-style grower cooperative to give nurseries security after a year in which some customers behaved "appallingly", according to the German-owned plant supplier chairman Jim Floor.

He said many retailers did not take reserves after failing to sell initial orders. "Some DIY sheds have behaved appallingly to their growers. There are going to be some growers in some serious financial trouble where people haven't taken their reserves. There will be some casualties - there's got to be. There's a mood of desperation among growers."

Landgard will launch an eight-member growers' cooperative in late 2012. The organisation will provide a range of growers with fixed-period contracts and timely payment terms.

Floor, who has already signed up including Chessum Roses, predicted expansion in 2013, with "growers knocking at the door". Landgard sources half its plants from UK growers.

Floor said the industry needs to define whether a reserve is an order or not and said there must be industry consolidation to avoid casualties. "A lot of growers have thrown away stock they thought they'd sold," he said.

"Now their concern is whether anyone is going to pay for it, and that's highly unlikely. Bedding is without a doubt hit hardest."

He added of Landgard's £3m of unsold reserves: "We sent some overstock to auction in Germany and sold a lot later than expected, but if you grow for us it's a contract and we're going to take it."

Floor forecast that some growers were certain to go out of business and said his company's sales were 12 per cent down, including 30 per cent down to garden centres, but were helped by being 10 per cent up to supermarkets. Speaking in February, he had hoped for 15 per cent growth.

Floor pointed to some better practices among retailers. "Tesco has a garden festival in May even if it snows."

Olympic role

Based at the former Brinkmans site in Chichester with a UK turnover of more than £23m, Landgard supplied 6,000 Olympic bouquets and added home delivery cut flowers to the business this year, working with Interflora, with gardening set to be added to that.

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