Setting the agenda for success in 2012

Without a VAT rise in 2012 and with the Queen's diamond jubilee and London Olympics replacing the 2011 royal wedding as calendar highlights, bosses see some bright spots among the economic gloom in 2012, especially as garden retail continues to buck the trend of the embattled high street (see p8).

Garden Centre Group was up eight per cent on 2010 ahead of its sale, which could alter valuations for many garden centres.

Back on the shopfloor, patriotic flower mixes will be on sale and garden centres are planning British-themed displays. And garden furniture and barbecue sales, hit by recession in 2011, could gain a boost from the Games' outdoor eating occasions.

This year will see peat becoming more of a consumer issue as the Government's Peat task force issues its roadmap for ending its use (see p20). New peat-frees on the market could take market share. Further trends predicted are for cheap and cheerful retailing to tempt cash-strapped punters.

Children's gardening will again be on the agenda with new fun products. Mr Bloom's Nursery on BBC's CBeebies channel is leading the way on TV in encouraging family gardening. Campaigns by Garden Retail columnist Peter Seabrook and the RHS are gathering pace too.

More of a guess is whether a revival in topiary may be led by some outstanding examples at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. But whatever happens, most garden centre owners enter 2012 in no worse a position than they did in 2011.

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