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FROM 2020 INTO 2021

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8 This primarily is delays to inbound freight and cost of shipping. My worst-case scenario is paying rocket high freight prices for stock that arrives several months late! Product cost prices will undoubtedly increase for UK suppliers/ importers and some of this cost will feed down to retailers and their customers if the situation does not improve soon. Alan Roper, Blue Diamond Brexit is a big worry as are the new plant passporting regulations. I worry about stock being delayed and rising prices. Shipping costs from the far east have also risen enormously and will mean delays and price rises for garden furniture. Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre

before the world can meet and work as we used to— but there’s hope that gradually we will establish a new, flexible normal and that international trade can begin to flourish again. Amanda Sizer-Barratt, Gardenex I think one of the challenges we might all face next year is sourcing stock. Some plant lines might be in short supply if available next year due to restrictions this year producing the base materials or cuttings. Our approach to next year is to work on the growth we have seen this year and encourage these customers to come back. We need to strengthen their newfound love of the garden. Kevin Turley, Lakeside Garden Centre

I think several macro challenges are facing the industry and questions that we need to ask. For example, what is the long-term effect of COVID-19 and when can we expect to return to a normal way of life? There is a definite challenge of retaining these new gardeners and we need to consider the most effective The importing of plants is going to be challenging. way of encouraging people to keep using their garden, even when life does return to normal. Sadly, I fear that many in the UK have underestimated the issues, despite the HTAs best Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care efforts to explain them over the last 6+ months. A major challenge for 2021 will be Brexit, which The positive is that UK growers will be more important than ever before. I hope local planning among many things, will have an impact on the import of young plant material. This could authorities start to fast track applications for affect the availability of some varieties, but nursery expansions – I hear too often of growers we are working closely with our suppliers to being knocked back, it is time they were also mitigate this wherever possible. I think 2020 recognised as essential. Challenges will centre has taught a lot of companies about the around logistics and the availability of products benefits of being as agile as possible. Our team and components of products, particularly if they have done a wonderful job rising to the come from overseas. We have seen shortages challenges of this year and this will put us in of anything made from plastic, that shouldn’t good stead for many years to come. reoccur thanks to the vaccine. Transporting Brett Avery, Farplants anything into the country by water will be difficult for the first 6+ months whilst border controls Are you approaching the season differently? adapt to new processes. Boyd Douglas-Davies, British Garden Centres and HTA President Yes, this will be the year to focus on retailing and cut back on the ephemeral parts of the business As I write we are awaiting the endgame of such as events, gimmicky marketing etc. negotiations between the EU and the UK and Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre whatever the outcome there will be challenges for business as a result. And although We are open to new ways of delivering vaccination programmes are now starting to international research and business be put in place, it’ll take a considerable while opportunities and are adapting our association The end of the transition period is providing lots of headaches, and with current delays at the ports, this only looks set to continue into the New Year. Vicky Nuttall, GIMA

The Evergreen Garden Care Team celebrate their Glee New Product Award on #FloralFriday for Greenfingers

business model to support our member companies in the ways they need. For instance, we will be expanding the number of international e-commerce opportunities for UK exporters as online sales of garden products have rocketed both here and around the globe this year while more consumers have been spending time at home. Amanda Sizer-Barratt, Gardenex The first big difference in approaching the 2020 season was the way we managed GLEE and moved our customer meetings to be completely virtual. It went well and enabled us to engage with over 250 customers over three days. It didn’t full replicate the in-person event, but under the circumstances it was successful. For next year, we are building our stock levels of key brands such as Tomorite, Levington and Miracle-Gro earlier in the year. This is in anticipation of Brexit but also a reaction to customer insight, which has indicated that they want to set-up earlier for the 2021 season. 2020 has forced us all to think differently and challenged us to be reactive to unforeseen circumstances and we will be taking these learnings into the new year. Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care

Closing remarks

Whatever happens in 2021 that will have consequences for our business, and there is a lot on the agenda, like the ecological debate, Brexit, the effects of COVID-19 and the change in the publics purchasing habits, we also need to remember what happened in 2020. The reverse “perfect storm” which occurred during the first lockdown when a fantastic period of good gardening weather accompanied a population restricted to their homes gave gardening an unimaginable “shot in the arm”. Of course, we need to optimise this renewed interest in gardening during this coming year but if the weather doesn’t play it’s part again it may be a case of “Goodnight Vienna”. John Ainscow, Summerseat and Bradley Fold Garden Centres

I am thankful to be part of this industry. We have shown that when we all pull together – growers, suppliers, trade associations and garden centres we can be better and stronger than any other. Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre What we have seen during the Covid crisis is the real resilience of the gardening industry and it’s been great to see so many new consumers enter into the category and enjoy it. The team at Evergreen have done a fantastic job during a difficult year and we are all looking for to 2021 with innovation and an even stronger marketing plan to further drive category growth. Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care Many thanks for all those who took the time to contribute to this article and share their thoughts and opinions. Wishing everyone across the industry a safe and Merry Christmas.

Written by Gill Ormrod www.gardentradenews.co.uk

December 2020 11

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