Tough market forces British orchid firm into liquidation

A British grower championed by TV presenter and writer Sarah Raven has gone into liquidation.

Preseli Orchids wound up business on 8 August after meeting with creditors at insolvency specialist Stone & Co in Swansea.

The orchid nursery was set up by David Sandy in 2004 when he moved into existing glasshouses on Wales' Gower Peninsula. He came out of retirement to produce high- quality Phalaenopsis, Vanda and Cymbidium orchids as pot plants and cut flowers.

The nursery later moved operations to Chichester in West Sussex. It received local grants and help from Prime Cymru, an organisation that assists people aged 50 and over who want to go into business.

Preseli Orchids were one of the British nurseries that took part in the Best of British Flowers event hosted by Raven at New Covent Garden Market this May. Cymbidiums grown by the company were used by florists to create displays, aiming to encourage trade florists to buy from British growers.

Preseli Orchids representative Alistair Sandy said at the event: "The market is pretty tough. Money is tight and flowers are the first thing to disappear. The Dutch are very competitive and can trade at ridiculously low prices because of their government subsidy."

East Sussex-based orchid nursery McBeans owner Liz Johnson said British orchid growers were finding it "pretty hard".

She added: "All growers are badly affected by the increase in oil prices and energy. We are personally a bit worried about whether we can pass the costs on to our customers.

"We mainly grow Cymbidium and Odontoglossum, but the genera that need hotter conditions, such as Cattleya - which we have been growing in smaller numbers - we may start buying in from reputable nurseries in Holland or Taiwan."

Owner of orchid specialist Burnham Nurseries Sarah Ritterhausen said: "Some of the shows have been down this year and the weather has not helped. You try to do as much business as you can. You need to find a niche in the market."

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