Packs drive B&Q bedding sales

National advertising and improved weather help B&Q to sell ten million punnets of bedding plants.

EasyGrow: green bedding packs - image: B&Q
EasyGrow: green bedding packs - image: B&Q

Ten million punnets of "teabag technology" are driving sales, which have been better than expected, B&Q has said.

The chain's horticulture sales were double the level of Easter 2013, which B&Q put down partly to the weather and partly to its national advertising campaign for the new greener bedding packs.

Other big retailers are now believed to be looking at the product, which is widely accepted for soft fruit and salads. B&Q is believed to want to roll it out into young vegetable and herbaceous plants, which could lead to shortages of the growing material from some suppliers.

B&Q horticultural category manager Joclyn Silezin said: "The last two years were probably the worst gardening seasons on record but this year we have got a bit of an ideal storm."

B&Q sells 140 million bedding plants annually. Its new "easyGrow with Teabag Technology" bedding plant packs consist of the new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) tray containing "growblocks" enclosed by a biodegradable "teabag" made from compostable corn starch.

B&Q, Coletta & Tyson, Jiffy and Modiform developed the product, with a three-year contract. It replaces expanded polystyrene (EPS) with PET plastic, which is easier for consumers and councils to recycle.

The growblocks are 100 per cent RHP-certified coir and produced at Jiffy's manufacturing site in Sri Lanka. Roundstone is also growing and Coco Green is supplying materials. Coletta took the idea to B&Q after seeing coir growing blocks for soft fruit.

Using coir instead of peat to grow bedding plants means B&Q is using 50 per cent less peat to grow its plants in the overall business.

The Modiform punnets are no more expensive to produce than EPS packs and are stackable and lighter for cheaper transport.

HW reported on the product on 25 March before B&Q revealed its innovation to the national media.

B&Q comment

"With easyGrow we're able to offer customers bedding plants that make it easier to get planting simply by removing the plant from the tray and popping it, contained in the coir-filled teabag, straight into the soil. Having an individual 'teabag' for each plant protects the roots, creating less chance of damage when removing from packaging. Customers' reaction has been really positive - they like the fact that the plants are easy to handle and the tray is easy to dispose of. Independent sustainability expert BioRegional has confirmed that the packs have a lower carbon footprint than the polystyrene/peat packaging."

Ben Smith, bedding buyer, B&Q

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