NFU chief horticulture adviser Hayley Campbell-Gibbons said: "Growers are choosing to do other things and calling it a day through retirement. There's been some redundancies, notably at Porters last month, and everyone's heard of someone going out or planning cuts."
Campbell-Gibbons is setting up a working group of trade associations to make a plan for the ornamental supply chain based on edible sector codes. It will review the sector's potential and present its results to retailers to show what a vibrant industry could bring them. She said retailers are cancelling orders at short notice.
British Protected Ornamentals Association chairman (BPOA) Ian Riggs said it needs a "grand alliance" between trade bodies to get terms better with supermarkets. "The BPOA welcomes any initiative that results in advice on drawing up trading agreements, an industry code of practice, even possibly legislation that protects the position of the grower."
Outdoor plants sales fell 17.1 per cent in the first 11 months of 2012 compared to 2011. Growers recently up for sale include Springfield Nursery in South Wales, due to retirement. Ashfield Nursery in Greatham is also empty and up for lease. Landlord Klondyke Garden Centres stopped growing there three years ago. The subsequent tenant left in July.