Retailers visit Scotts' R&D centre

Six leading garden centre managers have visited Scotts' research and development centre in Colombus, Ohio, to discover how the company is tackling pesticide alternatives ahead of proposed EU thematic strategy legislation.

Scotts commercial director John Ashley said: "It's a big worry for everybody. Part of a recent tour with garden centre owners to the US was to go round Scotts' R&D facilities and see what is coming through. We've got a number of very interesting non-chemical products that don't need clearance so could be on the market very quickly."

Scotsdales Garden Centre managing director Caroline Owen, who was on the trip, said: "This research gives us tremendous confidence in the market."

Scotts general manager Martin Breddy added: "The trip was partly to celebrate commercial director John Ashley's 70th birthday and retirement and achievements in launching the Miracle-Gro brand in the UK. That was a good reason for taking some key opinion formers to the US. One great thing about our trade is independence in ownership and thinking."

He added: "From our point of view, it's useful to get ideas and perspectives from these opinion formers to help us structure our long-term and innovation plan. And we showed them our R&D.

"This was useful to help us target what we should be bringing into the UK. The UK is recognised as the most competitive market in the world so insights from the UK are gobbled up by the US."

Breddy added that "key stakeholders" visited France two years ago and from that Scotts decided it didn't need to form separate brands for its "naturals" range, preferring to use existing brands such as Miracle-Gro Organic Choice.

Delegates on the trip were: Owen; Carol Paris of Garden & Leisure; Bob Hewitt of Klondyke; Derek Bunker of Alton Garden Centre; Malcolm White of Otter Nurseries; and Julian Winfield of Haskins.

- See next week's issue for John Ashley interview.

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