Woking Nursery Show calls it a day as members opt out

Falling visitor numbers and changes in buying patterns have signalled the end of the Woking Nursery Show after 33 years.

Visitor numbers fell to 400 from 600 at July's show and just seven of the Woking Nursery Group's 18 exhibitors displayed alongside 30-plus from elsewhere. The show lost money for the first time this year.

Committee chairman Colin Edwards said: "A lack of members exhibiting was the problem. The show was set up for the members but they are using other avenues to sell.

"We surveyed our local garden centre customers and they said they know all the suppliers because they have been showing for 30-odd years. If they want to see a product they ask for a picture to be emailed or the grower to show it to them. The show was nice to do but there wasn't the business there any more."

Edwards conceded that the HTA National Plant Show, set up in 2010, that attracts 100 grower exhibitors was competition but was not the reason Woking closed.

"We never intended to be the national show but became it by default. The real reason we closed is because members were not happy."

He added that the Woking members would develop a more upmarket website and may expand to let in Hampshire growers. He said he was upbeat about the future and thanked sponsor Floramedia.

Bob Mathias, one of the original growers behind the show and an active committee member, added: "The show has had a useful life beyond any expectation we had 33 years ago. That is a cause for celebration as we look forward to an exciting future in a changing marketplace."

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