South African garden centre pioneer dies

Robert Stodel has died aged 73.

As a teenager, Stodel worked on Dutch bulb farms in his school holidays and over weekends. After studying horticulture in Aalsmeer, he emigrated to South Africa.

He started Stodel's in August 1962, selling flower bulbs door to door in Cape Town. A mail order bulb catalogue soon followed and within a few years, Stodels Flower Bulbs became the biggest flower bulb retailer in South Africa, posting nearly 600,000 bulb catalogues to Cape households and importing up to 20 million bulbs from Holland every year.

The first Stodels Garden Centre opened in Kenilworth in 1968, followed by Stodels Bellville in 1973. In 2005 the company expanded again when Stodels Milnerton opened.

In 2006 Nick Stodel took over the reins from his father, Robert, as managing director of Stodels Garden Centres. Nick Stodel has been president of the South African Nursery Association and International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) and has opened two further garden centres.

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