Retailers battle cash-flow problems

Nurseries and garden centres are being hit by 30 decline in sales

Garden centres and nurseries are facing cash-flow problems because of a serious fall in sales in March. And many have had to throw away large quantities of unsold plants, after appalling weather conditions meant customers stayed indoors. Many garden centres reported a fall in sales of over 30 per cent. Although increased sales in April will help make up for this, stockists have had to dump large quantities of bedding plants as well as plants that had been specially brought on for sale in early spring. Owner Bill Mathews, of Essex-based Mill Race Garden Centre, said: “March sales are down 32 per cent on last year.” He said problems were largely caused by the constant rain. However, Mathews added that customers are also being more frugal. ADAS consultant Wayne Brough said growers were reporting a sales slump of anything up to 50 per cent. “This is causing cash-flow problems. Growers have to find money for new stock for April and May and the money from March is just not there.” He said there was heavy discounting to move lines, but was unaware of any traders who had been ruined by the slump. The trading trends report, produced by the Garden Centre Association, reveals members suffered a drop in revenue of 26 per cent in March. In the first three months of the year, revenue was down a total of 11.8 per cent. The slump affected large and small centres equally. Some traders remained buoyant. Johnsons of Whixley joint managing director Andrew Richardson said: “Our figures are holding up well. Sales slipped in March, but they’ve grown in April.” A representative for the Horticultural Trades Association said: “The past few years have seen record sales in March. We’re returning to more normal levels. The industry seems to be strong.”

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