HTA urges garden centres to attract business via schools

Retailers are missing sales by not getting more involved with schools, according to HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe.

The HTA and RHS have been in discussion about the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.

Briercliffe said it lacks retail involvement. He added: "Sometimes you have to give out to get back and by helping schools you are investing for the long term.

He said the HTA retail committee has identified that independent centres often do better than chains because they have strong links to the community that revolve around personalities and public service, for instance, schools in the area.

"The link to schools is going to be very important to garden centres in the future. Pester power is becoming stronger and garden centres can play on that. I suspect that the RHS campaign is focused at schools at the moment and the next step for us is to tell our members more about it and how they can get involved," said Briercliffe.

Garden writer Peter Seabrook, who with The Sun works with 10,000 schools growing potatoes and has supplied 600,000 seedlings to schools via Ball Colegrave since 1996, said: "The difficulty is finding one person at the school enthusiastic about gardening. Once you have that, it's fairly easy. But garden centres have to do more than offer free products. You need someone from the garden centre to go to the school to help transplant and pot up."

An RHS representative said: "The RHS campaign was launched last year with a focus to get schools, teachers, parents and children enthused about growing plants and setting up school gardening. To move the campaign forward we would love to have the support of a garden centre chain, especially as schools are always in need of equipment, plants and soil."

- Anyone interested in joining the campaign should email

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