GTN April 2021 - Garden Trade News, UK

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gtn APRIL 2021

Adviice & infformattion for garden centre professionals

Back to the NEC

for Glee!


Investment is back on the agenda

1000 years and growing for Coolings

Time to grow

2021 14-16 September NEC BIRMINGHAM Bringing the industry back together


Best Easter since 2011 The 2021 Easter fortnight was the biggest in terms of volume sales since Easter 2011 and up by 16% on Easter 2019. Hooray! Making Easter garden centre trade comparisons is always difficult as the dates vary each year, and of course, the weather can be a big determining factor. However, looking back over 10 years of GTN Bestsellers All Products Sold data shows that Easter 2021 was 28% busier than the average for the Easter fortnight between 2011 and 2019, and 59% higher than the last time Easter happened at the same time in April 2012. Week by week sales analysis of the GTN Bestsellers Epos data shows that volume sales dropped slightly during the second week of Easter 2021 but were still way ahead of sales records for the same week since 2015. This unprecedented growth in demand, whilst generating record takings, has created huge pressures for growers, suppliers and garden centres with replenishing stocks being held up, pre-sold and in some cases non-existent. As ever, garden centre folk are great at finding an alternative to sell and so are still able to find ways of keeping customers satisfied. The continued steady influx of new customers is also causing new problems as they are asking new

In this issue

questions, in particular when it comes to compost and the peat issues. GTN reader John Ainscow, owner of Summerseat and Bradley o Fold Garden Centres has been puzzling with how best to answer p his h customers questions about peat and CO2 emissions. He p writes: “Lying in bed this morning w I thought that the carbon stored in a peat bog is completely static, not decomposing. Perhaps when it is d disturbed and has oxygen available d then decomposition and the release t of CO2 can occur. But surely it o isn’t as simple as that, and this is is my point, most peat finishes back m in the ground so is it a gross over statement to say all the peat used in horticulture releases all its carbon back into the atmosphere.” In the next issue of GTN we hope to answer John’s query and pull together as much relevant information as we can about the peat issue and it’s implications for the future of gardening and garden centre retailing. Whilst out and about visiting centres again this month we found Aylett Nurseries had implemented their own Peat-o-meter to help customers understand the make up of their growing media products on sale. What ideas have you developed to help with customer decisions? And what are your views on the peat issue? Do let us know:

Back to the NEC for Glee!


Enhancing our understanding of New Gardeners


Life – Norfolk Leisure Style


GIMA Charity Golf Day returns this summer


1000 years and growing at Coolings


B-bag takes Extreme Lounging to new places


Investment is back on the agenda


LOFA Update – Are we over the worst of the shortages?


HTA Column – Success Brings Stress


Pictures of a Record Easter from Ayletts, Burston and Scotsdales 14 Unprecedented demand

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News Potting Shed Press Ltd Dairy Drove Thorney Peterborough PE6 0TX Tel 01733 775700 THE GTN TEAM Editor Trevor Pfeiffer Advertising Sales Alan Burdon Associate Editor Mike Wyatt Digital Editor Neil Pope Subscriptions Karen Pfeiffer Design & Production AT Graphics Ltd Kirsty Craner – Design Alun Jones – Production Manager Robert Tipping – Managing Director James Tipping – Technical Director Printing CG Print Ltd Do you qualify for a copy of GTN?

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Director Trevor Pfeiffer SMALL PRINT: All material © Potting Shed Press Ltd 2021. No part of this publication may e reproduced in any form whatsoever, either for sale or not, without the express permission of the publishers. The information supplied in this publication is published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. Potting Shed Press Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any error or misrepresentation. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by reliance on information contained in this publication or in the vent of any bankruptcy or liquidation or cassation of the trade of any company, individual or firm mentioned, is hereby excluded.


April 2021 3

GLEE 2021

Back in the NEC for Glee!

The signs are looking good for the return of trade shows this Autumn, starting with Glee. The GTN Team have already started planning with the Glee Team for The Glee New Product Showcase and Awards plus preparations for the Glee Catalogue and Glee Daily News are now well under way. With over a year now since the last trade event, we can’t wait to get back to the NEC in September. But how do garden centres view the return of Glee? GTN canvassed their views on the return of Glee and trade shows in general.

Martin Davies, Raglan Garden Centre, said: “Being an old codger and twice vaccinated I personally do not mind visiting trade shows any time soon. If suppliers are happy to support GLEE in 2021, I would be delighted to see a return of the main shopping window for our industry and I am sure our buyers feel the same. We would of course take any concerns they have into account. “As for what are we looking for when we visit, it must follow, after the early season supply issues this year we look to secure supply lines for 2022 by taking stock early into extended warehousing facilities from both European and Far East suppliers.” George Lisher, Highdown Garden Centre, told GTN: “Assuming the downward trend in Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths continues, I would support the reopening of trade shows by the Autumn. And I would look forward to attending GLEE.

4 April 2021

“Being a relative new-comer to running a garden centre, trade shows are particularly important. I am perhaps less interested in speaking to our existing suppliers as generally their reps do a great job in keeping in contact and advising of any new ranges. So for me, I am especially interested in seeing what we are missing and meeting potential new suppliers across all categories.” At Alton Garden Centre in Essex, Derek Bunker started by saying: “We definitely will be going to the tradeshow Glee in September. I’m looking forward to seeing the trade there and all the people that we have missed swapping stories about the amazing business that we’ve all done in the last 12 to 18 months, bragging about what we sold the most of and as usual looking for hopefully a lot of new products which have been missed out for a year and a half now.”

And Andy Bunker added: “Yep really need to get back to GLEE hopefully. As far as products are concerned with so much product selling in all categories everything needs to be looked at. “My concern though is there will be so much conversation all the companies must brief their staff about the importance of the product at the show. Garden Décor and Pot suppliers will be mobbed. Then there’s compost with the big peat issue. “I can see many, many more attendees spending all 3 days there. I do hope it can be mask free as this will be really difficult to deal with. While respecting there will still probably be certain rules in place to wear a face mask/shields for several hours is very hard.” Adam Wigglesworth, Aylett Nurseries is looking forward immensely to Glee, “subject to all things Covid, catching up

GLEE 2021

Andy Bunker (left) and Adam Wigglesworth (right) aree both lookingg forward to Glee. with suppliers who have done an amazing job and finding new and exciting products to bring to our customers old and new. Fingers crossed for a return to some sort of normality by then. Choosing ranges over zoom is OK but not ideal!” Justin Williams, at GCA Garden Centre of the Year, Fron Goch told us that he is very much looking forward to the safe return of trade shows. “I believe trade shows are a crucial part in the sourcing of new suppliers and new products and with such a buoyant market at the moment, hopefully, our sector is ripe for product development and investment to deliver new products. “Lockdowns and Coronavirus have been a very isolating and a lonely period for so many of us. Trade shows of course provide a great opportunity to see friends and industry colleagues and enable some very valuable discussions; I very much look forward to their return.” John Ainscow, Summerseat and Bradley Fold Garden Centres said that Glee is: “Tremendously important for us to see what is on offer, hopefully there will be a full shop window on show but at present I have a troubled mind regarding the peat issue.” Dan Lawton, senior buyer at Langlands Garden Centres shares the concern of many: “I would be happy to attend trade shows if the relevant measures were put in place and the number of people attending was restricted each day. As much as we have enjoyed visiting showrooms, the expense of travel and the time taken out of the business to visit each supplier at their showroom can’t be sustainable going forward. The thought of being able to see all suppliers over a few days again would definitely help. It is also a good time to see new products and for smaller suppliers to get there product out there and put them under your nose. Langlands as a business would look forward to attending Glee again.” And at Coolings, Dale Evans is looking forward to being able to get out to the trade shows, especially GLEE. “I would

say as always it’s good to look for what’s new and something you don’t see in every other garden centre. I would also say going on supply issues, trying to find people that produce their stock more locally if possible. It certainly helps in some areas of stoneware buying getting UK and European manufacturing helps to cover the long delays from the fast east we are all suffering. “Personally I always look forward to catching up with the suppliers on new merchandising ideas and also feeding back what sort of things would help us with merchandising that they might not of thought of, normally weather proof ideas.” Matthew Bent, Bents Garden & Home told us: “I think we are all looking forward to getting back to trade shows, to chat to our suppliers and see all the great new products and display ideas. We w Simon Bourne, Perrywood added: “I’m really looking forward to trade shows being open again, mainly just to get some normality back. I assume that there won’t be much new product to see still as no one will have got to China but there are some clever people out there so I expect there will still be innovation.” Gerald Ingram, Planters and Garden King Garden Centres is very excited to get back to normal as soon as possible and that

includes Trade Shows. “We have thousands of customers in our stores every week and trade shows are similar and generally fewer visitors spread over a bigger distance. Nothing beats seeing a product in the flesh. I think we are all getting fed up of Zoom. “I have respected those suppliers that have kept their reps on the road rather than not allowing them into stores. Not calling on us sends the message it’s alright for your staff to risk Covid selling our product to the customer but not our staff selling it to you.” Finally, John Bottomley, Newbank Garden Centres says: “We cannot wait to get trade shows up and running again. The return of Glee is massive for us, our business model is different to a lot of groups as between my mother Frances, my uncle Chris and myself, we do the majority of the buying for the business and we simply cannot afford to be out of the company travelling to the individual suppliers for days on end. “Not having trade shows makes it so much easier to just stick with what you know and not divert from the suppliers you normally use; this isn’t good for competition and stops smaller suppliers entering the market. “Spring Fair was probably the biggest loss to us as we have very expansive home interior sections at our stores and you really need to feel and see the products, every buyer in our industry will have been caught out buying off a PDF with something that looks big on a picture but turns up looking like it’s been under a shrink ray! “In terms of products and things we are looking to see, it’s a hard one for Glee, it is always variations on a theme but it would be nice to see some product innovation in the garden decor arena that is more contemporary and not just coloured animals, everyone seems to be laying grey composite decking and product that is sympathetic to that kind of look just flies off the shelves. “Most of all it will just be nice to interact with some friendly faces and people in the industry and see something new.”

Justin Williams (left) and Gerald Ingram (right) are loooking forward to things getting back to normal and the return of trade shows.

April 2021 5


Life - Norfolk Leisure Style

GTN caught up with Nick Anderson and Debbie Waudby, Directors of Norfolk Leisure, based in Kings Lynn, Norfolk to find out more about the development of the business, the current trading situation and their plans for the future. From its humble beginnings, the company has gone from strength to strength and is set to turnover £30 million-plus this year. This is physically illustrated by the growth in its footprint, with the team having moved to a new office building, new showrooms and warehouse expansion onsite in 2020 and an additional 4,500 sq m planned for late 2021. Their ranges too have expanded and brands include Life, Florenity, Handpicked and Keter with more on the way. There is a good mix of product for both ecommerce and retail sales. Despite such growth, the business retains a family ethos toward both its customers and its workforce. Nick explains, ”our business is built on relationships and we treat our customers equally whether they are small retail outlets or larger groups. We make sure that we have product and time for everyone. We haven’t left anyone behind as we have grown. “We have an extremely loyal workforce, many of whom have been with us a long time. We are still very much a family business in that sense. In the early days when we still manufactured product, my wife, Jo, was instrumental in starting the importing side of the business. Both my son and Debbie’s daughter and sister now work for the business. Communication is key and with around 40 employees currently, we are still able to keep everyone informed and involved.” It won’t have escaped anybody’s attention that the last year has been challenging for a whole host of reasons, not least the cost of importing containers from the Far East. Debbie says, “We normally bring in 2500 TEU containers across the year at an average cost $1,800 per container. This past year has seen costs escalate to between $9,000-$10,000 per container with some companies having been quoted $14,000! Fortunately, we have a strong relationship with our forwarders and brought a lot of our stock in early for a relatively reasonable shipping cost, although still a long way above what we usually pay. Our saving

6 April 2021

grace has also been in that we have warehouse facilities in China which gave us more flexibility.” Nick adds, “Our supplier meetings have taken place online and whilst we have been unable to make a trip to China we are fortunate in that last time around we did an extensive tour. We added a lot of product to our range, in fact too much for one year, and so we continue to introduce some of that. Last week saw 12 containers a day arrive onsite. It is imperative that stock moves quickly and that’s why we need increased warehouse space in the UK too.” Their onsite showroom became an invaluable sales tool in 2020 too. They used this to create a virtual showroom for their Christmas range. With the help of Nick’s son, a film and media graduate, customers were taken on a virtual tour enabling them to click on the products in the showroom for further information. Debbie comments, “It took a long time to develop but was so worthwhile with increased Christmas sales revenue despite few face to face visits.” Is this an approach they are likely to continue with rather than exhibit at trade shows? Debbie comments, “We are still on the fence when it comes to our presence at future trade shows. We have demonstrated a very cost-effective way

of reaching our customers on our own premises and I am not sure we would do shows in the same way as in the past. The past couple of years have seen the product range move from weave to aluminium and aluminium mix products. Whilst there is still a place for weave the team at Norfolk Leisure feel that this shift will continue with limited opportunities for development in weave. Debbie comments on the second year of strong growth: “Consumers are also looking for quality product and are spending significantly more on outdoor furniture sets. People are investing in their outdoor room and entertaining spaces.” LIFE, one of the most successful brands, was brought into the fold some years and Norfolk Leisure are the exclusive UK partners. The brand has very distinct and desirable designs. Norfolk Leisure has a lot of exciting plans for next year with new products across their ranges. One big development will be the launch of their Norfolk Grills brand of barbecues which they have spent the last couple of years bringing to fruition. Nick adds, “This is an exciting development for us. We have invested a huge amount of time to make sure that we get it right. We will also see lots of new products and development in our Life range, which is constantly evolving.” Nick concludes: “Whilst innovative and strong product ranges are critical, the key to running a business like Norfolk Leisure is about having good people. It takes time to build a strong team but we are fortunate on that front and all our employees play an integral role in the success of the company, as demonstrated by the challenges presented over the past 18 months.”



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1000 years and growing Coolings Nurseries Team are celebrating hitting the milestone of 1000 years of gardening experience this y year.

Originally started as a hobby in 1913 by Arthur Cooling, Coolings is proud of its family history with Arthur’s grandsons, Paul and David, still on the Board of Directors. The company which has now grown to include four garden centres across Kent and Sussex, along with a growing online shop, employs over 200 members of staff, some of whom have been with the company for 30 0 years or more. One of these is Garry Norris who started with the Robinson family (former owners of the Rushmore Hill Nursery) back in 1979 as a Nurseryman, aged 22. In 2019 Garry was awarded the prestigiouss RHS London Service Medal for over 40 years’ service in the horticultural industry. Garry says, “It only feels like yesterday that I was weeding roses. Time flies when you’re having fun!”. Managing Director, Gary Carvosso, is the second longest serving member of the team having first started with the company in Chislehurst as a Garden Centre Assistant back in 1984. Gary worked his way

8 April 2021

Garyy Norris,, started in 1979

u up through the ranks and was appointed M Managing Director in 2006. He says, “My fa favourite memories over the years have to b be seeing people joining our team, going on to grow with an expanding business and then fo for some, eventually managing their own te team. There has been such a great sense of ccamaraderie over the years in the highs and lo lows of business.” Next there is Chairman, Paul Cooling: ““Many people think Coolings is about plants a and gardening. Whilst that is undoubtedly o our core business, it is the people involved th that have made us what we are today. We h have always seen the team as an extension o of our family and family values really sit at th the heart of the business.” Paul officially joined the family business fu full-time in 1987 aged 23, although he u unofficially started work aged 6 clearing tr trays from under the plant benches at a rate o of 1 penny per tray. He completed a Garden C Centre Management diploma at Pershore C College and gained experience with several in influential garden related businesses in

GARDEN CENTRE TEAM PROFILE the UK and abroad, before taking up the position of Houseplant Manager at Coolings in Chislehurst and then going on to be appointed as Chairman in 2006. Outside of Coolings, Paul is active in the garden centre industry, not just in the UK, but internationally. He has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Garden Centre Association for over 20 years, and is currently a member of the Board of the International Garden Centre Association where he will become President in 2023. Although officially starting work for Coolings in 1990, Nicky Peto first worked with Mike Cooling at his nursery in Chislehurst in 1971. A close friend of the Cooling family, rumour has it that she babysat Paul and David when they were little! Nicky left Chislehurst to train as a florist but was invited to work at Coolings in 1990 to help plant up their hanging baskets. From there her role grew and she is now responsible for buying giftware and houseplants for the company, along with creating the wonderful displays you see in the Rushmore Hill shop. Mark Reeve joined Robinsons at the tender age of 16 as a trainee Nursery Assistant whilst studying at Hadlow College. He decided to get into horticulture as he was interested in plants and nature and liked the idea of working outside. 30 years later, and with a Gold HTA Retail Plant Care award under his belt, he’s still enjoying working outside, and is the company’s plant guru – what Mark doesn’t know about plants and gardening is arguably not worth knowing! The fifth longest serving member is Kevin

Paul Cooling with his parents, Michael and Shirley Cooling

Kevin Freeman and Ian Hazon Freeman who joined Coolings in 1990 after a brief stint working on a local farm. Kevin decided he would prefer to work with plants under glass, rather than out in the field every day and he joined the team working on the nursery where he can still be found tending plants today. The relative newbie in the group is Ian Hazon, Production and Operations Director. Ian is in charge of Coolings Nursery production - he joined Coolings in 1991 as Glasshouse Foreman following 3 years of training at Hadlow College. Passionate about plants, Ian used to grow flowers at home in his spare time to supply local florists; now he is responsible for the production of over a million plants, home grown, each year at the nursery. The above employees are the staff who have been with the company for over 30 years each; there are many more members of the team whose combined experience amounts to 1000 years! The Coolings team are constantly growing, if you would like to find out more about the history of the company, please visit

Gary Carvosso and Nicky Peto

April 2021 9

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Investment is back on the agenda

After the ‘feeding frenzy’ of the Wyevale sell-off, the global pandemic threatened to paralyse the garden industry. But things turned out differently, as Mike Wyatt discovered… In March 2020, the garden centre real estate market dried up as lockdown #1 began to bite. Many businesses which had spent millions on acquiring, re-developing and re-shaping their new acquisitions feared that the enforced closure of non-essential retail would derail their new projects, especially those that had invested in lavish new catering facilities. You only had to look at the order books at property agents and planning consultancies to realise that, in that moment in March, the bonanza was over. Simon Quinton Smith of specialist property agents Quinton Edwards, who had handled a number of Wyevale deals, vividly recalls the reality. “I was closed for three months,” he said. “In the financial year to last September, I had the worst year in 30 years.” Allen Evans, partner at the Gilbert Evans agency, recalls: “After the Wyevale boom we had the pandemic and most

owners hunkered down and focused on their own businesses. It was very much a wait-and-see attitude.” Fast-forward to March 2021… and a whole new picture is taking shape. Garden centre sales are booming on the back of a new-found interest in the garden, which is attracting much of the disposable income previously spent on travel and hospitality pre-pandemic. And, as a result, investment is back on the agenda for many garden retailers. While uncertainty about the easing of lockdown restrictions persists, there is a consensus that the market is once again in a positive mood. Evans says the number of enquiries his company is currently handling from potential buyers and sellers suggests “quite a strong demand”, while Quinton Smith says the real estate market shows signs of picking up. “There is undoubtedly good demand out there,” he tells me.

There is an equally optimistic outlook on the development front. “Clients are investing – and they want to move fast,” said Paul Pleydell from the Pleydell Smithyman consultancy. “They’re looking to see the back end of this thing [the lockdown].” Chris Primmet of Malcolm Scott Consultants says re-development projects currently account for the main investment activity. “Since March 2020 we have obtained planning consent for 18 garden centre re-developments ranging from a 4,500sq.m. retail/leisure/catering extension in Leicestershire to a car wash in Kent. We have another 20 applications either lodged with councils or about to be submitted. So, I would say that the mood amongst our clients is very positive.” Evans says that, the Wyevale flurry aside, relatively few garden centres are offered for sale in an average year. “Between 2016 and 2019, we only handled no more than eight sales. And while underlying interest

April 2021 11

GARDEN CENTRE INVESTMENT may be strong, stock availability issues may currently be holding the market back. Nevertheless, he believes 2021 holds the promise of a record year for the industry, although stock shortages could see it turn into a missed opportunity. Overall, he says, it is quite a positive picture “From the conversations we have had with operators, there is not the negativity you might have expected as a result of the problems of the past year.” Quinton Smith has seen fallback from the Wyevale sell-off continue during the past 12 months. “Operators still haven’t got the money because, having bought the Wyevales, they are having to spend a lot on the assets,

training staff and getting them back up to speed after they perhaps had got into some bad habits. So that’s one of the reasons they’re holding back. “Also, they don’t know that’s going to happen with their restaurants and face the prospect of only operating at half capacity. However, most businesses seem to have done the same turnover in the past year without the restaurant as they did the year before because the retail side has been so strong. They’ve been picking up new customers and novice gardeners, particularly those with farm shops, who have been benefiting from the additional footfall.” Even before the government announced

Dobbies acquires Johnsons of Boston Twenty-three years after buying Johnsons of Boston, David Isaac, a self-described “engineer from a family of retailers”, has retired and the business sold to Dobbies. “Everything I’ve done at the centre has been geared to making as many reasons as possible for customers to keep coming back,” David explained. That’s why Johnsons of Boston were one of the first garden centres to add a convenience food hall over twenty years ago. “I remember Tesco’s tried to stop us selling food,” recalled David. That’s rather ironic now as the Fine Foods Hall, which had been emptied by shoppers before Sunday, will now become a Sainsburys food hall within the Dobbies Garden Centre. After a two-week re-fit the garden centre re-opens as a Dobbies Garden Centre on Friday 30th April with all the current staff retained, but GTN understands, without any of the previous concessions that have been a feature of the centre. Graeme Jenkins, CEO of Dobbies, which now has 71 stores, said: “We are delighted to welcome the team at Boston to Dobbies and over the coming weeks we will be investing in the store to bring it in line with our format. This acquisition comes shortly after the opening of our second little dobbies store in Bristol and we look forward to announcing more new stores in the near future.”

12 April 2021

that restrictions were to be eased in midApril to allow restaurants and hospitality outlets to re-open outside in pe-booking socially-distanced systems, bookings flooded in – and quick-off-the-mark garden centres have apparently been receiving their fair share, with reports that some are booked up until July. “Most restaurants have got good outside areas, they can put up canopies if they haven’t got them already, so I think they’ll be rammed,” Quinton Smith said. He believes the likely continuing limits on international travel are also good news for operators and those who want to expand and develop, although he warns that, post-Brexit, businesses who rely on Dutch glasshouse suppliers may face price increases. The need for overseas installers to quarantine for two weeks is an added complication. Primmet at MSC says the pre-pandemic trend towards larger catering expansions has been replaced by more modest upgrading since the lockdowns. “There is still demand for extensions of 40 to 50 seat and revamping existing facilities,” he says. Food hall and farm shops are likely to continue their growth trail in the coming year. He has also noted increased interest from owners keen to cover more of their outdoor sales areas with retractable roof structures. On the town planning front, Primmet says the swing from bricks and mortar to online trading is forcing many councils to re-think their town centre policies and

GARDEN CENTRE INVESTMENT potentially look more favourably on garden centre projects. “However, this might lead to higher development taxes on garden centre developments through the application of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).” The CIL allows planning authorities to make additional charges on new buildings over 100 sq.m. to fund key strategic infrastructure. “I know of two garden centre project which have stalled where the CIL ran into six-figure sums,” Primmet says. Paul Pleydell says the switch from serveries to table service in garden centres was a significant trend between lockdowns last summer to meet the revised regulations. “It also meant higher transaction values, so many operators have now re-modelled their restaurants and cafes. But because the offer has now been ‘premiumised’ as a result, it means the surroundings have to be improved, so we are seeing that kind of project come through.” Equally significant is the sudden apparent need for extra warehousing – to hold stock not only for online and click-and-collect sales but also extra space to store stock in the event of supply shortages, both foreseen and unforeseen (like those precipitated by the blockage of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given container ship). Meanwhile, Pleydell says, it is the job of consultancies like his to focus on creating a retail experience for people to enjoy to capitalise on “the new impetus out there”.











The QD Group are actively seeking new garden centre investment opportunities, running ads as above in GTN. Below, Stanley Bragg Architects have recently secured planning permission for a warehouse extension at Scotsdales in Cambridge.

April 2021 13


Pictures of a record Easter At last the GTN team has been able to get back “On the Road” to visit garden centres and bring you up to date images of great garden centre retailing. In this issue we include photos taken on Good Friday 2021 from Aylett Nurseries and Burston Garden Centre’s in St Albans, Hertfordshire and Scotsdales in Cambridge.

Flying the flag for UK growers at Burston, where they also have their own growing production too! Climbers were selling straight off trolleys as soon as deliveries were arriving on Good Friday at Burston

Above, right and above right: The Eco Section at Burston pulls together a host of Eco friendly products including Fast Grow Liquid Seaweed in pre-filled bottles and as refills.

14 April 2021


Where once there was a bustling food hall, Scotsdales now have a very spacious till area for socially distanced queing.

Plant promotions linked to the Tillington Beautiful Gardens magazine are the first hotspot in the planteria entrance

Scotsdales well stocked Hozelock display will be heavily shopped as the dry spell s continues

A very empty t garden d ffurniture it area att SScotsdales t d l was rapidly idl bbeing i ttaken k over with more gardening products

Propagating P sales. Growing accessories for all levels of gardeners at Scotsdales

April 2021 15


Growing media everywhere. No wonder Ayletts are selling almost an artic of compost every other day, it’s merchandised all over the centre

If you can’t sell garden furniture at Ayletts because its all gone, then just get selling all sorts of other outdoor leisure products insstead!

Strict customer number control is still in place at Ayletts, keeping their customers and staff safe at all times

Louise at Ayletts came up with the idea of their Peatt-o-metter to quiickkly convey to custtomer The key factt on peatt levels. “More and more customers ask about peat levels so we wanted to make sure that they could quickly know, as sometimes the information on the packaging is vague and is often on the rear, which does not help.” The Ayletts team here have worked with suppliers to get the peat percentage for each product but this is an on-going job as batches change and they need to try and keep the point of sale accurate. “Its easy to do on the peat free though!”

16 April 2021


The stunning houseplant department at Ayletts had been well shopped for Mothers Day, but was still fabulous and very busy on Good Friday

If you’re selling plenty of Orchids, then make sure you’re selling plenty of Orchid repotting compost. This is one of two merchandising spots in the Aylett’s Houseplant area.

Pots of sales. Good Friday at Ayletts saw many trolleys full of pots and plants, and plenty of decision making on the right ones to choose.

Lock down has provided Ayletts with the ideal opportunity to invest in their cafe which will re-open as table service later in the year.

April 2021 17


Unprecedented demand

This spring has seen gardening sales the like of which we’ve never experienced before, people are buying earlier and buying more, all of which is leading to stock availability shortages. GTN has been talking with growers and suppliers to find out how they are coping. Demand for plants rockets….. With 2020 having been one of the most challenging of years the prospect of a return to some sort of normality in 2021 is something we were all looking forward to, if not craving. With an extra 3 million gardeners estimated to have joined the gardening masses in 2020, there was always the prospect that it was going to be a busy season. But just how busy and how early? Few would have predicted the strong start to trade for English garden centres in the first few months of the year with unprecedented demand for plants and all categories of garden-related products. With Welsh and Scottish garden centres now open and with garden centres in Northern Ireland being able to trade from 12 April demand is set to increase further.

February 2020). These buoyant sales have helped offset the lost sales resulting from the closure of restaurants which traditionally would be contributing to the lion’s share of sales in the early months of the year. Plant sales are exceptionally strong as demonstrated by the following February figures – bedding +43%, hardy plants, trees and shrubs +107%, houseplants +16%, seeds +75% and bulbs +51%. Supporting categories illustrate this further with gardening equipment sales up 86% and plant care products up 88%. The average transaction value for February was up 79% on February 2020 at £29.73. This suggests that consumers are spending their leisure time in the garden and preparing for the months ahead when they can begin to socialise with friends and family in the garden once again.

The market position The latest industry statistics from the HTA’s Garden Retail Monitor show that garden and gardening categories were up by 69% for February 2021 (when compared with

Planting frenzy The industry has seen exceptionally high demand for plants of all varieties at a much earlier point in the season leading to concerns over supply. Whilst many growers

18 April 2021

are fulfilling customer reserves there is very little free stock available. Strong communication is key and never has it been so important for growers and retailers to work closely together to maximise the mutual benefit for everyone. The impact of the first lockdown which brought the industry to a standstill is still being felt. As a result, many growers would have grown fewer plants – not least because of having less staff on site adhering to social distancing and safety protocols. Couple this with the impact of Brexit which has brought further complications in terms of fewer seasonal staff available and import issues and longer transit times for young plants and houseplants. From the growers’ perspective We spoke to a number of growers to find out their thoughts on current demands for plants and the challenges ahead. Natalie Porter from Happy Plants “Demand has been exceptional this season. We have never known demand like it for this time of year. A slow(ish) start left us with

With over 50 years experience manufacturing garden furniture, Hartman is an established name amongst garden centres and consumers. Known for producing furniture with comfort, design and quality in mind, Hartman continue to inspire the consumers with stylish, desirable outdoor living products. ecognising the swing in consumer demand for contemporary furniture, Hartman boldly presented an array of contemporary aluminium ranges, offering a variety of colours and finishes into its 2021 collection to support its popular weave and cast aluminium ranges, such as the Heritage and Amalfi. Hartman’s contemporary aluminium collections are all finished with its unique Tuscan ceramic glass, which has proven to be extremely popular throughout the entire collection due to its unique quality and finish. The innovative table tops are both practical and beautiful offering a scratch resistant, heat resistant surface which is very easy to clean.

its ability. Welcoming 8 new members to its team, each with a wealth of experience in their own areas, Hartman have supported every department within the business with additional resource. As the industry moves into the digital space, the requirement for expertise is evident. The addition of a Digital Marketing Assistant and a Direct Home Delivery Customer Services Representative bolsters the online space within the business. Strengthening the customers services team, a Customer Services Supervisor, Customer Services Representative and a Spare Parts Administrator has been appointed. The addition of these roles enables Hartman to service its new and existing customers to a very high standard.

The popularity of the aluminium ranges, such as the Vienna and Dubai have rewarded Hartman with considerable growth over the past year. This period has been a rollercoaster of a journey for all businesses and people within the gardening sector, having all experienced the ups and downs of a very turbulent year. But for Hartman the year has offered a plethora of exciting opportunities, including an impressive new Headquarters in Telford, expansion of its team and a booming year for consumer demand.

To house the expansion of its team, Hartman have invested in an impressive new HQ, which offers double the amount of office and warehouse space. The new site in Hortonwood, Telford will also accommodate indoor and outdoor photography studios and a product showroom.


Growth of the business, requires expansion of a team and Hartman has invested in ensuring that its customers continue to be supported to the best of

With the unfortunate news of SOLEX being cancelled for 2021, and the success of Hartman’s 2020 trade show, the impressive new HQ site will be the home of the manufacturers 2022 Collection trade show in June, with an impressive 800sqm showroom to showcase its stunning new 2022 collection to all trade customers.

Hartman supply major retail groups, garden centres, independent retailers and online stockists. Email to find out more on how to become a stockist or for more details on the show.

To view Hartman’s 2021 collection, please visit:

GROWERS & SUPPLIERS Natalie Porter, Happy Plants

almost enough stock to satisfy the front end of the surge (around week 8) but now we are back in the situation of last May where there aren’t anywhere close to enough stock to meet demand. “Shortages are already happening. In bedding, there would normally be a oneweek changeover between Spring and Summer, yet at the moment it seems inevitable that there’ll be a 3-4 week gap as everything is selling through so early. “At the moment, it feels as though there would be demand for a stick shoved in a plant pot! Again, we are back to the situation of last summer where buyers are buying anything they could to fill shelves, regardless of what it was or how popular it might normally be. It’s hard to pick out which lines are performing best as everything we can possibly list in our web shop is selling out in seconds.

“I’ve heard a few people say that there may m be a drop in garden centres’ popularity once the rest of retail reopens and that o stores may decide to order cautiously s to t avoid being potentially overstocked. I disagree and think that, for most buyers, d the t opportunity to be overstocked would be b much welcomed! From garden centre reports, combined with the way the trade r has h suddenly taken off over the last month, I think it’s safe to assume we [horticulture] are a already carrying a larger customer base into the season. With overseas holidays still i largely on the back burner for this year, l it’s i hard to see how this year couldn’t be a record-breaker. Unfortunately, the widely r publicised issues through the supply chain will disrupt or limit stock availability in a lot of categories- particularly garden furniture, sundries and longer-term crops, but having some degree of effect on all corners.” Adrian Marskell from The Bransford Webbs Plant Company comments that they have found demand extremely high, unlike a normal March. “Looking ahead to the coming weeks it will be very tight in terms of plant supply. There is a lot of stock about to become saleable but as ever the biggest factor will be the weather. It seems that everything is selling! It’s difficult to take advantage of these situations as you can’t just turn a tap on for plant production. However, the situation should help to keep wastage down.” When it comes to advice for plant buyers Adrian suggests that ‘when contacted by

Tomato plants have been a huge growth area this spring. GTN Bestsellers data shows there have been 35% more Tomato plants sold this year compared to 2019.

20 April 2021

nurseries take the stock that is offered as it may not be there the next week’. He adds, “This is a great situation for UK nurseries to be in, especially after the lockdown period last year. However, I would say that nurseries need to stick to their normal standards as these new customers to the joy of gardening don’t need to be put off by plants that aren’t ready being pushed into the marketplace.” Matthew Robertson from Frank P Matthews “Most of our garden centres took larger deliveries in the autumn so we have less available this spring. Stock is selling through and many customers are reporting that they could sell more trees if we could supply them. We have increased production again for the autumn which should help meet demand next season. “Demand for trees is strong and customers are keen to buy British grown which is very encouraging. We have very little left now but it is normal for stock to run down in the spring, it has just happened a few weeks earlier this season. “We grow a huge range of varieties and there is good demand for all of them. If any group stands out as being more popular at the moment then it’s apple trees, especially reliable garden favourites such as Scrumptious and Christmas Pippin. For ornamental trees then there is a definite resurgence in interest in blossom trees such as Japanese Flowering Cherries. “We start taking orders for the new season

GROWERS & SUPPLIERS in July and start despatching fresh stock in August. It’s important for plant buyers to promote trees in the autumn, trees are much happier if planted before Christmas so I’d advise making space for them in the plant areas and communicating to customers via social media etc that autumn is the time to buy and plant trees.” Ursula Key-Davis, from Fibrex Nurseries in Warwickshire, which specialises in Pelargoniums, sells through mail order. “It is only March and we’ve sold out several times already,” says Ursula. Last year, their volumes already doubled and this year, they are upscaling their production as much as they can. Two weeks ago, they started sending out the first young plants to the consumers and demand is incredibly high. “It seems that more people started gardening and they are happy to wait till their young plants are ready.” Demand is and has been extremely high. In 2020, they doubled their volumes, and this year they are up-scaling whatever they can. Usually, they would export to Europe as well, but this year they needed all plants to meet the demand in the UK. And orders came earlier this year. “People already started to order in February when our plants weren’t even ready. We receive a lot of repeat orders and people ordering specific varieties. They just want to be sure that they get their plants and are happy to wait when needed”, Key-Davis explains. Fortunately, Fibrex Nurseries keeps all the mother plants and

produces all the mother plants themselves. “In this way, we are able to upscale our production when necessary.” So what varieties are the most popular? According to Key-Davis, the demand is extremely high across the board. And there is a lot to choose from as they hold the National Collection of Pelargoniums, which means that they have the largest collection of pelargoniums, over 2,000 different species and cultivars. On top of that, they also hold the National Collection of Hedera - consisting of over 354 different types, with the majority being from the Hedera helix family. A Way Forward As is always the case each season is different to the last. This year, in particular, has been fraught with challenges on the back of the lockdowns, closures and Brexit. The upside is that spending more time at home has meant that more people are taking an interest in the gardens and outdoor space. Sales of plants this season, at an earlier point than usual, have been extremely robust (across all varieties) and as an industry, we have an opportunity and responsibility to foster this heightened interest and support gardeners (existing and newcomers alike). We can also help in terms of sharing knowledge so that customers realise more about the plant production process and understand that the tap cannot be turned on overnight to produce more plants in an instant. From a buying perspective this season has illustrated how important it is to secure free stock as soon

as it is available, to honour your reserves and book in your reserves in good time for the year ahead – whatever it may bring! Demand for garden products of all kinds has gone through the roof A ‘perfect storm’ of unprecedented demand, a container shipping logjam and global raw materials scarcity has left the garden industry facing stock shortages for the rest of this year. The coronavirus pandemic has inspired such a surge of interest in gardening that demand for garden products of all kinds – not just plants – has gone through the roof. “It’s been crazy,” said Nick Davies, managing director of Gardman Crest. “People who have never done gardening before have created this massive new demand and suppliers are struggling to meet it. You could not have predicted this sort of thing.” Then, the blockage of the Suez Canal by the container ship Ever Given in March compounded a shipping problem that importers have been facing since before Christmas. Unprecedented international demand had already caused a shortage of containers in the Far East before the Ever Given ran around, causing a tailback of container vessels that is likely to ripple through the industry for months to come. Almost all suppliers of imported product are warning retailers that delivery delays are inevitable One of those significantly affected is Smart Garden Products, whose managing director, Jonathan Stobart, confirms that

‘Frosty’ Spring Fails to Halt Sales to UK! The severe frost that recently hit Italy caused damage to many plants in the Tuscany Region and in Pistoia in particular. These included those in blossom, new vegetations and fruit trees. Despite this spring time shock, Tuscany Growers are delighted to report on increased sales and delivery to the U.K. There is strong demand for Bamboo (phyllostachis), Rhyncopspermum, Photonias and Pleached Trees. Impressive Video ‘Tour’ Tuscany Growers are also receiving high levels of ‘views’ to their impressive video ‘tour’. While personal visits to their nursery in Pistoia are restricted, you can view their high quality Tuscan Production at

April 2021 21

GROWERS & SUPPLIERS ucts Jonathan Stobart, Smart Garden Prod

stock destined for UK garden centres is still on board the Ever Given, which was impounded by the Egyptian government last month (April) pending a claim for compensation. At the time of writing, news about the vessel’s release was still awaited. Stobart said Smart also had a lot more product in transit in the shipping queue. “We’re not ducking the fact that the whole freight situation is challenging,” he added. The big three shippers who dominate the freight industry have announced ‘blank sailings’, which massively reduces capacity “We are still shipping a lot of stuff and costs are going up all the time. We’re taking the hit ourselves at the moment, but that can’t go on indefinitely.” Smart are already gearing up for 2022, confident that the consumer’s new-found passion for gardening is not a flash in the pan. “Demand is currently off the scale – and there has been no let-up,” Stobart said. “I feel we’re going to have a good year and a longer season.” Vicky Nuttall, director of the Garden Industry Manufacturers Association (GIMA), says conversations with her members make it quite clear that “everybody is stretched to the limit”. “It’s not something they are trying to hide,” she said. “Everybody is facing increased demand over the past year and it’s affecting the whole supply chain.” Far East sourcing is a particular challenge because of the container shipping issues, she said, “and it doesn’t seem to be easing. When I speak to suppliers it’s not just about containers but about raw materials at the factories, both here and in the Far East. And then they can’t get a ship.” She says suppliers are encouraged by the understanding shown by retailers about their plight so GIMA plans to circulate a thank-you to the trade. “We have urged members to be open, be honest about it and have not had complaints.”

22 April 2021

At Tildenet, MD Andrew Downey says garden centres are “understandably g nervous” about supply issues, as the n ‘perfect storm’ has put an unprecedented ‘p strain on distribution. “. So the concern is s a valid one, but along with all suppliers, we are a working night and day to mitigate the issues and keep our customers informed so is that they can plan effectively,” he said. t “Everyone in the industry has faced the t same enormous challenges and like others, we’ve not always managed to o deliver a perfect service throughout, but d we’ve worked hard to resolve issues and w communicate with our customers – where c things have gone wrong we’ve put them t rightWe have been very glad to have r positive feedback from our customers and agents report that Tildenet have actually managed any issues very effectively and overall our supply to customers has been reliable in spite of everything.” Downey believes the biggest issue is the ability to guarantee fluid movement between ports. “The post-Brexit bottlenecks at some of the major UK ports and European destinations, coupled with the impact of Covid has resulted in heavy congestion at the ports and the availability of shipping containers is very limited – in many cases the costs of shipping containers have increased by over 500%. The Suez blockage further complicated the picture. “Throughout we have worked hard to secure the most competitive deals and managed to guarantee the majority of our shipping slots; however the problem remains that there are costly bottlenecks throughout the distribution chain. We took the decision last year to increase stock holding by 50% to try and protect against any uncertainty of supply – which has proven to be invaluable given what has unfolded over recent months – and have introduced additional shifts in our warehouse so we can work around the clock. Downey says Tildenet, whose gardening brands include Haxnicks and Bosmere, are making every effort to minimise disruption and mitigate the costs with improved efficiencies and the introduction of new stock and forecasting systems. “We have been absorbing the significantly increased costs up until now.” At AMES UK, which owns Kelkay, MD Paul North, says demand has exceeded even their most optimistic forecasts and the subsequent pressure on global supply chains “impacted negatively on our ability to bring finished goods and raw materials forward”. He said the imbalance between freight capacity and demand had driven cost

increases of up to six times the previous year’s rates. “We had hoped to see freight rates normalise, but regrettably this is taking longer than we hoped and where we have been unable to absorb these extra costs, it is likely to drive inevitable price increases. Shortages of cardboard and plastic had put pressure on packaging supply, largely driven by increased demand overall. “We don’t expect this to be a long-term issue” North added. He expected the company would be on top of back orders by the end April or early May. “From then, we expect our UK manufactured goods availability of aggregates and paving supply to return largely to normal.” However, he expected manufacturing capacity and production machinery for wooden products, which had been at full stretch, would remain challenged until the end of the season. Additional machinery in the pipeline would double production capacity for next season. North expected the company’s outdoor heating, pots and water features to enjoy good availability in the second half of the season. “We are also working very hard to secure future stock to enable a return to normal stock availability for 2022.” Finally, the garden product industry’s heavy reliance on plastics makes it especially vulnerable to the current hiatus in the supply of raw materials and the consequent price hikes being experienced by many manufacturers. The demand for plastics in Covid-19 PPE has exacerbated the issue – and is partly to blame for the shortage of trigger heads reported to be having a knock-on effect on certain garden care products. GTN has been unable to confirm this with suppliers. There is an added complication: some suppliers of plastics raw material are attempting to use the ‘force majeure’ regulatory device to argue that, thanks to the pandemic, the production difficulties of the past few months were beyond their control, allowing them to walk away from their commitment to supply.

Wrien by Gi Ormrod and Mike Wya

Paul North, AMES UK

Supported by point-of sale material to help boost sales.

Bathgate offer retailers a comprehensive range of high-quality horticultural products.

Products can be delivered nationwide. 01270 762828


Enhancing our understanding of New Gardeners

As we get to grip with the changing market, all new customer research helps us make the best decisions on what to stock and how to display. Here’s three snippets of useful data from research carried out by Hozeleock, the Common Sense Gardening Group and The Flower Council of Holland. Latest research into gardening as a ‘feel good’ hobby The latest research commissioned by Hozelock has shown that more than eight in ten adults have taken up a new hobby during lockdown to boost their mental or physical health. Whilst walking, reading and exercising are the most popular gardening and growing fruit and vegetables also feature high in the list. This was especially the case when people chose a hobby because it was good for their wellbeing or would have a positive impact on their health. Sarah Dixon, from Hozelock, said: “Many of

us have had more time on our hands during the past 12 months, so it is only normal that we are filling this time trying out new hobbies and interests. With so much uncertainty in the year, it is great to see that people are choosing activities that will improve their mental health and provide some structure to their day and weekends. Gardening is one such hobby, not only is it accessible for everyone but it is always incredibly rewarding to watch plants grow.” The study also found 77 per cent agreed it’s been important to keep their mind busy since spending more time at home in the past year.

And 74 per cent felt hobbies have given them something to concentrate on, while 63 per cent credited the activities with helping them to stick to a routine while at home. Of the 35 per cent who have taken up a new hobby during lockdown, 23 per cent did so in order to improve their home or garden, 42 per cent to fill spare time and 29 per cent to avoid thinking about the pandemic. The weather (24 per cent), friends (23 per cent) and TV shows (16 per cent) have also inspired people to take up new past times. More than half of adults count gardening as a hobby, with 70 per cent spending more time sprucing up their outdoor space during the lockdown than ever before. Green-fingered adults enjoy the physical benefit without feeling like they’re exercising (54 per cent), seeing their achievements such as plants growing (50 per cent) and creating a calming, inviting space (46 per cent). And while 35 per cent of those polled via OnePoll opt to garden on their own, 46 per cent do so with their partner and 18 per cent with their child. It also emerged that during the average week, people typically spend two hours and 14 minutes on exercise-based activities, an hour and 13 minutes baking and 1 hour and 28 minutes gardening.

Flowers and plants remain relevant At the end of the February 2021, research agency Motivaction investigated the effects of Covid-19 on sales of flowers and plants for the second time on behalf of the Flower Council of Holland. The study again focused on consumers in Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The conclusion was that in challenging times expenditure on flowers and plants is generally not the first expense on which consumers economise. The most notable findings from the research at the end of February compared to the first study at the end of 2020 are:

24 April 2021

• Flowers and plants remain important during lockdowns. • The crisis means that there is still a lot of appreciation for the products. • Rise in home deliveries of flowers and plants to own home and to others. • More positive view of personal financial situation. • The majority of respondents are buying the same amount of flowers for themselves. At the end of 2020 Motivaction asked respondents whether they agreed that flowers and plants make the atmosphere at

home much nicer when you are spending so much time at home. 60% agreed. The recent study explored the effect of flowers and plants on both the living environment and the home-working environment in more depth. 62% now indicate that their living environment is more pleasant with flowers, and 61% feel that this is also the case for plants. 51% indicated that flowers brighten the home-working environment, and 52% feel that plants have a positive effect when working from home. This figure is 57% for millennials (born between 1985 and 2000).


Of those polled, 15% of 25-34 year olds took up gardening as a hobby since lockdown first began, which is the same level as 55-64 age bracket (15%). 35% of those aged between 18-24 considered gardening as a hobby of theirs, 38% between 25-34, 52% for 35-44 year olds, 51% between 45-54, 55% for those aged 55-64 and 64% were 65 and over Here is what each age group enjoys the most about gardening: • 18-24: Eating my home grown produce • 25-34: Watching my garden change throughout the year • 35-44: Spending time outdoors • 45-54: Spending time outdoors • 55-64: Spending time outdoors • 65+: Spending time outdoors Age breakdown of the amount of people who state they spent ‘much more time’ gardening during the lockdown compared to before the lockdowns: • 18-24: 38% • 25-34: 34% • 35-44: 50% • 45-54: 26% • 55-64: 25% • 65+: 14%

French and British consumers are more inclined to recognise that flowers improve the atmosphere at home (67%) and say that they are looking after their houseplants and outdoor plants better during the crisis. Consumers in Germany reported proportionally slightly more that their work environment is made more pleasant by houseplants (57%). Almost a quarter of consumers said that they had bought flowers (23%) or plants (24%) online for the first time since the start of the pandemic. This is a small increase compared to the first study. 20% have had flowers delivered to their home since the

The UK is a nation of gardeners A recent survey carried out by the Crop Protection Association’s Common Sense Gardening Group confirmed that the UK really is a nation of gardeners, with over 85% of people surveyed engaged in gardening in some way. 75% of households carry out gardening activity at least monthly through the season – either planting, pruning, fertilising or weeding. Importantly, 85% of those that perform some form of gardening activity do so because they recognise it’s good for their physical and mental wellbeing. Ben Shapiro, Chairman of the Crop

Protection Association’s Common Sense Gardening Group said “We are indeed a nation of gardeners. Whilst this includes those who simply tend to a potted outdoor plant or mow their lawn, over 75% of us are quite actively engaged in our outdoor spaces through the season. Our survey has also confirmed what we know about gardening’s positive contribution to our mental and physical well-being” The Survey was conducted in 2021, by Fly Research. It involved 2196 respondents selected to be representative of the UK population of those over the age of 25.

start of the crisis, and 26% did this with plants. 25% of respondents are having flowers delivered to others more often than before the pandemic. This figure is 24% for plants. Roughly half the respondents are very pleased that florists and garden centres are offering home delivery; in the UK this figure is as high as 61%. 28% of respondents said that they are buying flowers more often because they are at home more, and 27% said the same about plants. This is also a slight increase compared to the end of 2020. Here again we are seeing that millennials respond more positively than average. They

order online more often, and also buy more than average. At the time of the second study, 66% of respondents said that their financial situation had not yet changed, compared with 68% at the end of 2020. 65% indicated that they do not expect that position to change over the coming six months either (as against 63% at the end of 2020). 20% reported that their financial situation has already deteriorated, and 15% reported that they expect this to happen over the next six months (19% at the end of 2020). The prospects are therefore generally more positive than at the end of 2020.

April 2021 25


GIMA Charity Golf Day returns this summer June 9th at Belton Woods Hotel & Golf Course As lockdown restrictions ease and golf clubs reopen, there’s no better time to confirm that the annual GIMA Golf Charity Day will be making its return on Wednesday June 9th at the Belton Woods Hotel & Golf Course in Grantham. This special charity fundraising and team building event will see teams reunited on the course with prizes up for grabs for the usual spot games and ‘Beat the Pro’, as well as a super special prize for any golfer who completes the golfing holy grail: a hole-in-one. Golfers can enter individually or as a team of four, together testing their mettle on the 6,623yard course that carries a par 73 handicap. Whilst adhering to current government COVID guidelines, participants can also enjoy a barbeque post-golf (seated and table service only), whilst an informal prize giving will also take place where the winners of the day are celebrated. A raffle for the 2021 beneficiary

26 April 2021

charity - Greenfingers - will round off the day’s events. Golfers are also welcome to stay at the hotel thanks to a special discounted rate *. As always, the GIMA Charity Golf Day will also offer a number of key sponsorship opportunities for brands wanting to support the event. Sponsorship packages include ‘nearest the pin’, ‘longest drive’, ‘straightest drive’ and ‘hole-in-one’. Brands can also sponsor a hole, drinks stations, booby prizes and golf balls for additional brand awareness opportunities. GIMA Director, Vicky Nuttall said: “We are so looking forward to welcoming golfers back to our annual GIMA Golf Charity Day. The Golf Day has always been a hugely popular event and we know it has been missed. We hope many will be able to join us, to not only raise vital funds for the highly deserving Greenfingers Charity, but vent also to enjoy what we hope is the first ev

in our journey towards a new normal. We’ll see you on the fairway!” > To join the GIMA Charity Gold Day please visit Prices to play and enjoy the post-round barbeque from just £65 +VAT. * discounted rate only valid until May 12th 2021


B-bag takes Extreme Lounging to new places and extremes. When Steve’s son asked his dad to make him a bean bag it seemed a pretty straightforward request for the textile company owner. But there was tough feedback on the first two designs. Mainly “Bigger, dad!” The third design, tested and loved by friends and family, was refined to become the now iconic B-Bag. Even today, our luxury B-Bags and the other products in our range, are made close to home in Yorkshire. British through and through, all are crafted with the same commitment to quality, attention to detail and in an environmentally friendly way as possible. The double stitching, the carefully considered comfort fillings, and proper weatherproofing all help to make our products loved for years to come. Bringing style and comfort to the outdoor lifestyle is what we’re all about. So it’s little surprise that our recent additions include the B-Hammock, B-Bed as well as the B-Bulb, our iconic and efficient indoor/outdoor light.

Now delivering comfort right around the world, the brand’s come a long way since that family conversation over ten years ago. Being British-made has helped our exceptional growth, and we’ve proudly put our stamp on the UK outdoor market. As

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April 2021 27


Outdoor Leisure Products Shortage; Are we over the worst? LOFA reports on the continued struggles for the Outdoor Leisure Industry This year has been a struggle for the outdoor leisure industry. LOFA have been reporting since January on the issues faced by its members, and although we were hoping for some respite it seems that these problems are not disappearing. The lack of space on container ships is still causing concern, and some members are yet to receive stock this year. On average, deliveries are 2 months behind schedule which wasn’t helped by the Ever Given blockage adding an extra 5-10 days on already extended journeys. Once the products arrive there is also a delay at ports whilst ships are waiting to be docked and then unloaded. Costs of shipping from China are still 7-8 times higher than they would normally be, some members have recently been quoted up to $13,000 USD for one 40’ container. Considering many have to bring in 30 plus containers in a season this is a lot of extra funding they are having to find this year.

28 April 2021

Numerous members have absorbed a lot of the costs to assist their customers where possible, but this will not be sustainable if this uncertainty remains in the market. It seems the prices were starting to level out but have now risen again because of limited spaces on ships, missed sailings and the aftermath of the e Suez Canal incident. One of our members has not been able to get a container into Southampton since October last year, every vessel is running late and has been for months. Brexit has also had a major effect on deliveries. Increased customs procedures are not helping especially with goods going to and from Europe, shipments to Northern Ireland remain costly and time consuming. It seems that UK ports are more expensive and more congested than EU Ports and many ships are being re – routed to European ports to circumnavigate this problem. Post Brexit administration has increased UK

OUTDOOR LEISURE As if the delays to other shipping caused by the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal were not enough, any stock actually on the Ever Given could now be held up for a very long time. Having been detained by the Suez Canal Authority, the owners have declared “General Average” in light of the $916 million demand for salvage costs and damages. “General Average” means that the costs of refloating and salvage of the ship is passed on to the cargo owners on board on rateable proportion depending of the value of each cargo owner’s cargo. Until the contribution for general average is settled, the cargo owners cannot take delivery of their cargo, even if it is delivered at the destination. An appeal is being head against the detention of the vessel on May 4th.

/ EU shipping times at least three-fold. What used to take a week is now taking a minimum of three. This is affecting supply of products from the European mainland and deliveries to both Northern and the Republic of Ireland. Keeping up with the increased demand means that delays are inevitable, our members are ordering products that will be leaving as late as April, May and June and this will certainly extend the season. Demand is outstripping capacity and as a result of warehousing limitations there

are widespread reports of production being behind schedule. This shortage is global, factory orders from all over the world are up on garden furniture and there is now a shortage of skilled workers, raw material and production space. There is a rise in wage and manufacturing costs, as well as an FE price rise of 10-20% due to exchange rates, all this plus Covid restrictions are affecting production and dispatch times. If everyone is staying at home rather than risking holidays abroad this year and the sun starts to shine we are in for an even busier season than last year. Stock levels are already low and product is already sold before it arrives. Repeat orders are coming in thick and fast and some customers are accepting goods that will be arriving in the UK as late as September. Retailers are being very understanding and accommodating and are willing to wait until specific brands arrive which is a great relief, the demand for products is massive and the sales out from centres is good, some customers have sold out their full stocks in weeks which in a “normal” year would have lasted them all season. It will be hard to determine how we move forward into the future. Will there be an industry shift to earlier ordering times? Should we increase stock holding through the Winter months? Should we think about manufacturing in the UK or the EU? The fragility of the Asian supply chain has clearly been exposed. Although Covid induced, maybe our industry needs to start thinking ahead to determine how we might best position ourselves if we are to avoid the adverse impact of a future global freight crisis.

Greenfingers Say Thank You to LOFA!

The Greenfingers Charity is offering its thanks to The Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA) following the trade association’s kind donation of £10,000. This generous donation will help to kickstart work at Greenfingers’ latest project at The Nook - a children’s hospice in Norfolk which falls under the umbrella of East Anglia Children’s Hospices. Speaking about the donation, Pravin Patel, Chairman of LOFA said: “We at LOFA are really so happy to be able to continue our on-going support for Greenfingers – particularly at a time when even more people need safe green places. It will be great to see the development of the new project at the Nook to the fantastic standards of the Greenfingers team”. Linda Petrons, Greenfingers’ Director of Fundraising and Communications said: “We cannot thank our friends at LOFA enough for their support once again. This generous donation will be put to very good use helping to transform the garden at the hospice. On behalf of us all at Greenfingers – thank you!” > To find out more about Greenfingers Charity, and how to get involved in a range of fundraising events please email Linda@

Contributions from Bramblecrest, Hampson Agencies, Ascalon, 4 Seasons Outdoor, Munro Importers, Cadac, Gardeco, Charbroil, Que Fresco, Daro, Supremo, Primo Grill and Extreme Lounging.

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Much has been written in the last year about the therapeutic benefits of horticulture. The mental and physical improvements to life enjoyed by many when given the chance to spend time in a garden, no matter how large or small, are well known and undisputed. However, there’s a real danger that we may all miss one of the negatives of the recent boom in horticulture and that is the stress, both physical and mental, that our industry colleagues are under at the moment. We are now in month fourteen of covid and for many that also means over 400 days without much, if any, time off. Current trading suggests that it is going to be a big spring season followed closely by a summer of staycations and increased garden activity – this could add a further 100+ days to the time some have been working without a break. March 2020 saw a previously unexperienced stress – complete closure of garden centres, instant break in the supply chain with many plants only going to compost, and an unknown restart date. Fortunately, the initial closure only lasted 7 weeks and trade leapt the instant we re-opened, much to everyone’s relief. However, what we didn’t see coming was the true worldwide impact on supply of goods. The diversion of raw plastic to the PPE industry now leaves us short of pots and labels. Disruption to the production of compost ingredients combined with incredible demand is starting to show in reduced offerings from the manufacturers. The early season, combined with the demand from gardeners, new and old, has left British nurseries stripped bare earlier in the year than ever before. So, the stress of Spring 2021 is now all centred on keeping the industry stocked.

30 April 2021

Growers, manufacturers and retailers are all sharing this problem and working closely together. Business owners and management understand the wider issues but let’s not forget the many thousands of our colleagues facing the customers day after day. Have they been briefed properly about the worldwide shortages of raw materials, the reductions in the number of shipping slots, the early plant season and the time it takes to grow more? The customer is expecting to quickly find what they want and when they don’t they may be venting their frustrations at the till operator, the compost loader or the plant assistant. We need to ensure that support is given to all in the team. Many of our catering teams have been off for months, that brings it’s own stresses and, possibly, financial strains. As they now return to work, no doubt excited but nervous, they will also

face customers who simply don’t understand, or won’t follow, social distancing rules. Our teams will need significant support in weeks to come, maybe financial, maybe emotional. Whilst you will, no doubt, have plans in place to look after your team don’t forget that there is additional, confidential, help for members of our trade from both Perennial and the HTA Benevolent Fund partnerships-groups/htabenevolentfund.html Whilst the phones and tills may well be ringing longer and louder than ever before, please don’t forget that this success is also bringing stress for some. > The Horticulture Trades Association is the UK industry’s leading membership organisation. It welcomes all sectors of horticulture – to join please contact