Unwins unveils seed trial plans as rumours abound of £18m site sale

Seed trials set but sale of Histon site yet to be confirmed

Unwins will hold its seed trials at its Histon site this year amid speculation over the future of the site. The seed company will also hold trials at another undisclosed location. HW believes the sale of the site is imminent. David Unwin, whose family owns the site, would not confirm or deny that he has sold the 3.6ha of land to developers for £18 million. Unwins’ lawyer said the site had not yet been sold. HW believes Unwins is looking at nearby sites for relocation. Managing director Edward Conroy of Westland Horticulture, which bought the firm last August, said he would issue a press release on developments at Unwins next week. He added that at some point in the future, the Unwin family will sell the land because it is worth more for development than for horticulture. Westland has a lease of up to two years on the Cambridgeshire site. Unwins managing director Martin Brown said that if the Unwin family had sold, “it’s news to me”. He added that if it was to be sold, developers were “not going to get anything off the ground this year”. He said that he was evaluating a new site and “looking at a number of options”. “We want to develop the trial grounds to the next level,” he added. Brown will launch Unwins’ assault on the “undynamic” bulb market this week, saying: “We’re going to give it a good old shove. It needs it.” Unwins will premiere Christmas gift ranges, which Brown claims rivals such as Taylors do not cover well. He said Marks & Spencer and Tesco were doing better at selling bulb gifts than garden centres and he wanted to address this. “At Christmas, why are people going to garden centres? Buying a gift because they’ve got Christmas on their mind. Tesco is just part of the weekly shop,” Brown said. He added that Unwins’ point-of-sale and packaging material would “turn the market on its head”.

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