Vapogro plan blamed for Avoncrop demise

Administrator Leonard Curtis has blamed the demise of horticulture supplier Avoncrop on "a failed diversification into a related venture" based around the Vapogro brand of growing media.

Avoncrop, having bought Vapogro from Finnish producer Kekkila, converted a former Fisons factory in Meare to process Vapogro products for £1.8m in 2003. Insiders suggest it has been battling to make a return on the investment ever since in a "tight" market.

HTA president Andrew Richardson said the difficulties may have arisen because growers increasingly want to deal with manufacturers rather than suppliers. Bulrush and Plantpak now supply direct.

He said: "Everyone wants to deal direct with the manufacturer if they can, to try to cut costs out of the business. We haven't dealt with Avoncrop for a couple of years. The supply chain is different to what it was two years ago. There has been consolidation - fewer growers in the industry. And there's a lot more stock from the Continent."

ADAS growing media consultant Susie Holmes said: "The growing media climate has been very tough over the past few years. This is not the first and will not be the last to go. It is very difficult to get prices up - production costs are rising, suppliers are having to invest in peat alternatives and imports are rising. But the industry is not prepared to pay higher prices."

Companies such as BHGS, Munro, East Riding, Fargro, LS Systems and Altys will hope to pick up Avoncrop's pots, compost and sundries supply business.

Leonard Curtis is seeking a buyer for the business, which has a turnover of £10m and employs 53 staff at three sites in Bracknell in Berkshire, Boston in Lincolnshire and Sandford in north Somerset.

Leonard Curtis director Paul Reeves is keeping the business trading while seeking a buyer. He said: "Avoncrop has an experienced management team and a range of strong brand names that are highly regarded by a loyal customer base.

"Potential buyers could be businesses in the same sector looking to expand, firms wishing to diversify into the sector, new entrants seeking a ready-made business or a management buy-in team."

Leonard Curtis would not comment further.

Another source said: "Growers have fixed prices with sheds so can't pay more for supplies and that means margins are being eroded. Avoncrop made a hell of an investment with Vapogro and the sales volume could not happen fast enough."


Subscribe to Horticulture Week for more news, more in-depth features and more technical and market info.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Business Planning - Brace now for Brexit impact

Business Planning - Brace now for Brexit impact

Neville Stein advises how businesses can act now to protect themselves against higher plant import costs after the Brexit deadline.

Horticulture careers - plugging the skills gap

Horticulture careers - plugging the skills gap

Bespoke apprenticeships and internal training are helping firms to get ahead in skills-shortage horticulture, says Rachel Anderson.

Tractors: market roundup

Tractors: market roundup

Manufacturers are working to provide solutions to many challenges. Sally Drury looks at their newest models.

Opinion... Why no-deal Brexit should worry you

Opinion... Why no-deal Brexit should worry you

Whether you voted leave or remain all those years ago, a "no-deal" Brexit should worry you.

I will not be importing oaks this season. Will you?

I will not be importing oaks this season. Will you?

I find myself in a difficult situation. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be present to hear details of imminent changes to regulations concerning Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) and oak trees. I heard details, asked questions and probed the implications of these changes. That may not sound like a difficult position to be in, yet I am uneasy.

Opinion... Better targets to tackle pollution

Opinion... Better targets to tackle pollution

Lobby groups jumping onto fashionable campaigns, often to promote their own interests, can do much more harm than good. Take, for example, the move against black polythene plant pots and containers.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +


The Horticulture Week Business Awards is now open for entries

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 60 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive RANKING of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles