Reader Panel - How important do you regard plant brands to your business?

B&Q has revealed that it no longer stocks any plant brands after rolling out its own-brand Verve label. We ask industry experts how important plant brands are to their business.

Trading manager

"Branding is really important now. That's why we're so successful. Americans say it takes 25 years to develop one.

"But to develop a brand is very expensive. When you talk to big stores they sell on price so our policy on supermarkets is we do work with them in other countries selling only seven famous varieties

"But we've never encouraged it in the UK because it can effect the high-end market."

- Tony Slack, international sales director, David Austin


"Brands are hugely important because of our niche market. It takes a long time to be recognised worldwide by repeating our name in the press and at shows. That gets us fixed in the subconscious of buyers, growers and the consumer.

"I don't know why I would work if I didn't have brand recognition. But at the same time, one wants to supply B&Q because it is a good seller. If a plant isn't looked after by the seller it can be a negative on brand image."

- Carolyn Bourne, managing director, Whetman Pinks


"I hope that if plants are good quality the consumer will recognise labels and point-of-sale systems and want more of them.

"That's the thrust of what we're trying to achieve with our Garden Beauty brand. It's about raising consumers' and gardeners' confidence in what they're purchasing so they look out for more.

"But we're coming less from a commodity angle than B&Q and more from a selected choice with slightly unusual material."

- Ian Ashton, managing director, Lowaters

Nursery owner

"We have a programme of moving to own-brand under a three-year plan. But it's important that we back leading brands and support our own label.

"Some areas have no brands, such as propagation. Verve is the only one in plants and grow your own, although in compost we're backing the major one, Miracle Gro.

"We would consider something like David Austin but we don't stock it."

- Steve Guy, horticulture trading manager, B&Q.

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