Persevere to crack the French market, say Salon exhibitors

France might be a difficult market to break into but the rewards are great for those that do, exporters say.

Last week’s Salon du Végétal show in Angers appeared to confirm that France remains a difficult market for UK horticulture firms to crack. Export sales director Russell Willmoth of first-time exhibitor William Sinclair Horticulture said: “There has not been the footfall we would have liked but have got a couple of good leads. We think we have a superior product to what’s available locally. It’s difficult to break into, but it can offer good business once you’re in.” Caroline Whetman of Whetman’s Pinks added: “The atmosphere is quite depressed, as with the rest of Europe. There have been two bad summers and so people take appropriate action.” Plant importer Will Sibley, who was absent from this year’s show, said: “There’s a natural reluctance in horticulture to accept anything that isn’t French. The whole history and psyche of the French and their land is very personal. It’s much easier in Germany.” But commercial manager Paul Nicholls of exhibitor Brinkmans Nurseries was more upbeat. “We hope to expand into France as we have done in Spain.” This year’s show had 605 exhibitors, one-fifth from outside France, and around 17,000 visitors — similar figures to last year.

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