Nursery stock growers should build on relationships with banks, says Notcutt

Industry grandee Charles Notcutt was due to tell the Contact 09 nursery stock conference on Wednesday (14 January) that businesses yet to a build a stronger working relationship with their bank must make this their top priority.

Notcutt, who became president of the family firm in October after retiring as chairman following 50 years with Notcutts, planned to tell delegates the time to talk to their bank manager was before the business needed more cash - not at the point of running out.

"Explain your business plan, your cash projections, your requirements, your hopes and your concerns," he said in a speech prepared for the conference.

He added: "During this difficult period the banks are being encouraged - even required - by the Government to be more supportive to small businesses ... so why not take full advantage of this?"

He also encouraged delegates to see current challenges - from customers extending payment terms and seeking price stability to pressures for reduced pesticide and peat use - as an opportunity to "shake out the bad practices of our past, to do some things differently and to do some new things".

This includes raising prices to cover costs, establishing and sticking firmly to fair trading terms, getting real commitment from customers to taking stock they have reserved and reducing operating costs further through processes and technology as well as proven management disciplines such as the HTA's Lean programme.

Notcutt was also expected to call on the HTA to lead a campaign to promote the health benefits of gardening to the general public, while urging the industry to improve the appeal of its product through new development, packaging and better merchandising.

At its annual conference last October, the HTA released research that demonstrated both the physical and the mental health benefits of gardening.

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