Homebase boss reaffirms commitment to garden market despite "disastrous" summer.

Homebase MD Paul Loft says the DIY/garden chain is committed to gardening despite a "howler" of a season.

Loft told the HTA annual Garden Futures conference which was held in London yesterday, the "gardening passion is still there at Homebase."

In contrast B&Q's owner Kingfisher CEO Ian Cheshire suggested the rival DIY/garden chain was questioning it's seasonal categories when speaking last month.

Loft said Homebase had given away £4m of plants via newspaper vouchers this season rather than write it off "because we and our suppliers needed to get something for our stock".

He added: "We're keen to take the rough with the smooth even on a disastrous summer like this one."

Homebase announced big declines in seasonal sales last month.  Homebase targets novices and has 70 per cent female garden customers.

Loft presented Verdict research showing plant sales will rise industry-wide from £2.22bn to £2.42bn by 2015.

He said: "Gardening is still one of the few things people like shopping unequivocally." He added that grow your own was not a fad and was expanding at Homebase.

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