Thompson & Morgan’s press day attracted a record number of journalists last week. And the open weekend to launch new varieties for 2005 at its Ipswich trial grounds brought in 7,000 visitors.
Managing director Jonathan Cooper said seed trial open days were “very important” as they give “first-hand experience of what products can do in quite poor soil conditions. It is important to show the consumer that the product does work.”
He added: “We’ve had quite a reasonable year with early returns far better than what we expected. You could argue we’ve seen five to 10 per cent growth.
“We always said that the market was static but this shows customers are still interested in buying packet seeds.”
He added that T&M will continue to trade with independent garden centres rather than multiples: “When you’re dealing with multiples you’re dealing with a different pricing structure. They have cut-throat buyers with no loyalty or recognition of what we’re trying to achieve. Garden centres recognise research and development. You will not see T&M in B&Q.”
Director John May added that the young-plants division had an annual turnover of £26 million after its formation in 1995/96. He said total group sales are at £35 million a year, with 90 per cent coming from mail-order sales.
However, young-plant division managing director Paul Hansord said he was in talks with the postal service after 33 per cent of plants took more than four days to be delivered last year.
Hansord said the young plants division had become brand leader in the past 12 months, with 60 million plants sold last spring. Key introductions for 2005 include Thunbergia alata ‘Susie Mixed’.
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