Several wholesale nurseries are establishing retail outlets to bring in extra revenue, while some are selling to the public through existing businesses. But the public will not receive trade discounts, growers have stressed.
"We've got a cash and carry open to the public and we're planning a plant centre," said Welland Vale Nurseries managing director Trevor Burns. "We wouldn't sell at wholesale prices, but there are a lot of nurseries that have retail outlets. You can't make any money selling at wholesale prices to the public.
"A lot of the public who come to us are not people who want one or two plants but have big designs. We don't get that many private customers up here, but they are people with designs and don't just want one hebe."
He said the planned plant centre will cater to the public. "We've got planning permission and we'll start building in July. At the moment we've got private people in the cash and carry. When the plant centre opens that will be purely trade and retail will go to the centre."
Jacksons Nurseries sales manager Sherrie Davison said: "We're quite happy to do it if it's a large enough order. We've been doing it for a few years now. It's normally people with landscaping planned in their gardens and who are ordering a considerable amount of plants. They wouldn't have the trade discounts and it would cost more if it's mail order."
But Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson said: "Cash and carries don't welcome retail customers. It's not fair on the trade customers." He added that lots of the tradesmen who are turning to landscaping are buying wholesale plants, making some sales a "grey area".
Appropriate pricing for wholesale and retail customers
Lewis Normand, sales manager, Coblands Nurseries
"Coblands has a reputation as a wholesale grower but we recognised at the beginning of the downturn that selling to retail customers is an excellent opportunity to develop a new revenue stream. Our retail business, which is primarily online, brings the same plants that we sell to our wholesale customers to our new retail customers. We pitch our plant prices appropriately for wholesale and retail customers.
"To avoid the less desirable elements of buying 'retail' from a 'wholesale' supplier, we naturally have to manage our new retail customers differently, giving them increased support and guidance where skills and relevant knowledge may be lacking. VAT is not added but included in the price, the customers are managed by different staff and the product is priced appropriately for the industry. We see no reason why we shouldn't sell to both types of customers but want to manage them appropriately and to price them accordingly."