Palace hosts unique trade show

Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace allows royal contractors to show public what they do.

Royal contractors and suppliers had a "once in a lifetime" chance to show the public what they do when they exhibited at the first Buckingham Palace "trade show" - last week's 60th Coronation Festival held in the Queen's gardens in London.

The one-off event played host to 200 Royal warrant holders, including landscape contractors Gavin Jones and G Burley, who shared a stand with Hillier.

Burley managing director Giles Burley said the event gave a great platform to entertain clients and promote its work at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. "We were pre-warned the Queen was going to visit us. She only went to a few exhibitors so we were honoured to meet her."

He added that the event, which attracted 48,000 paying members of the public, was less about attracting new business and more about "being the perfect occasion to say thank you to 100 clients we have invited. It's an opportunity we couldn't afford to miss."

Burley said the high-end South East market remains strong but competitive for landscape maintenance. Recent work centred on businesses, with the local authority marketing still declining. According to industry figures, 36 per cent of the whole market is in the South East.

Gavin Jones managing director Martin Mogford arranged for the three exhibitors to show together, with Jones and Burley putting aside commercial rivalries for the week.

Mogford said there is a "definite upturn" in high-end domestic installation work in the South East. With money not earning in the bank and foreign money coming in, demand is good, he added.

Landscape director Mike Ogden said: "Demand is fragmented but there's certainly been an upturn. He pointed out that Battersea Power Station, the US Embassy and South Bank projects are set to boost the industry, with the housing market now looking more encouraging.

Hillier representative Jim Hillier said three New Horizon elms on the stand would be planted at Buckingham Palace and Windsor. He added that the high-end market is more of interest across many suppliers because the local authority and capital project markets have fallen.

Hillier is well placed to supply garden designers now because of its range of multi-stems, he said.

Barcham Trees managing director Mike Glover said Sandringham is a good customer and 2013 has been a steady year.

Buckingham Palace head gardener Mark Lane said: "We know all the warrant holders very well and they all give fantastic service."

Festival exhibitors

Other exhibitors at the Coronation Festival included:

- Bayer

- Delamore

- Suttons Seeds

- Taylor's Bulbs

- Vitax.

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