The company which specialises in pack bedding plants during the spring and autumn, with potted bulbs following on during the winter and spring and which produces containers all year round, also has a 2.4 hectare site at Gosberton and further capacity at sites in Spalding and Cowbit.JVG Herbs (owned by Bridge Farm Nurseries and Jenny van Gemeren) is a sister business to Neame Lea and supplies Aldi with cultivated potted herbs. Together with Lucksbridge Horticulture, which operates from a six hectare site in Moulton Chapel, they make up a portfolio of companies with sales of about £8m, which managing director David Ball expects to increase to over £10m this year with the additional facilities.
He said: "Our purchase of the Horseshoe Road site comes on top of the £4m we have already invested over the past five years."
The Bridge Farm site has loading docks, two biomass heating systems, specialist lighting and an environmental computer which controls the heating, ventilation and humidity levels.
Ball added: "Our new premises will need a phased revamp, but they are going to be really important at peak periods. We are going to begin work on the cold stores area immediately in order to have them ready for second week of December and the Christmas rush. We plan to put in state-of-the-art packing and production areas to ensure that this facility will be one of the best in the country."
Neame Lea sells potted bulbs and bedding plants to most major retailers and garden centre groups, including Asda, Homebase and the Garden Centre Group, and the bulb business has expanded over the past year pushing the need for the additional facilities in Horseshoe Road.
The late Malcolm Barney set up Neame Lea, which was was bought by Bridge Farm Nurseries’ owners Tony and Jayne Ball in 2010. Their son David Ball became managing director in 2012.
Neame Lea employs 30 full-timers but, at peak periods such as the run-up to Christmas and Mother’s Day, adds up to 150 agency workers.
Ball said: "We work in a challenging sector, but we see further potential to develop in new markets and we believe that maintaining levels of investment is key to keeping our prices competitive and staying responsive to customers’ needs."
Neame Lea bought the site from Banks Long & Co, whose director William Wall said: "The (Horseshoe Road) buildings were in quite a state of disrepair and Neame Lea had sufficient vision to imagine how the premises could meet the very specific needs of the business. The deal is reflective of a more bullish approach returning to the market."