Roundstone predicts further growth for its Plantconnection web operation

Roundstone Nurseries' recently appointed managing director Peter Cook is predicting further growth for its award-winning online gardening business, Plantconnection, when its new look website goes live after Christmas.

The consumer arm of the Chichester-based nursery saw a massive 60% increase in demand for its vegetable plants, plugs and ready vegetables in 2008. Cook said he believes the demand will rise by a further 40% next year "despite the forecast of retailing doom for 2009".

Plantconnection was given the Which? Gardening Best Buy award for plug suppliers earlier this month. It was judged to have sent the highest quality plugs out of eight mail order suppliers.

The new website will launch in January and Cook said it has "a modern, attractive design with easy navigation".

"We anticipate capturing new market share, particularly among younger techno-and-gardening savvy consumers."

Cook added: "One of the main barriers to success in the online and mail-order business has been robust packaging and the high probability that plants will be ruined in transit. We've invested considerably in developing our own packaging that will enable us to send plugs and finished product securely."

The company was commended by Which? Gardening for its specially designed boxes. The magazine found Impatiens, Begonia and Petunia plugs arrived in "perfect condition".

Robust packaging for their pot plants has been developed over the past six months, with new carriers available for 9cm and 10.5cm pots.

Blogs are currently being developed to feature on the site, as the company wants to build "online communities through which we can offer our customers real assistance and advice, and listen and respond to their ideas and comments", said Cook.


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