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HTA Column – Finding inspiration in Scotland

F i n d i n g i n s p i ra t i o n i n S c o t l a n d a t the end of another challenging year

Alan Down, HTA President

Last month I made a brief trip to see some of Scotland’s finest garden businesses. Starting with Pentland Plants Garden Centre and Nursery in Midlothian, I must say I was blown away by the fabulous Green who has his finger on I have plans to visit some visit others as time goes by. the pulse of the Scottish garden business. Welsh garden centres and will endeavour to quality of poinsettias grown there. All are heated by bio-mass boilers too!

While my other visits were primarily retail oriented, a look at Finger’s crossed for a busy December Craigmarloch Nurseries near Glasgow was, for me, a real eye-opener. I know this month is a very big one for HTA retailing members but Supplying landscapers, local authorities, house builders and retailers, with uncertainty surrounding customer confidence, inflation and this multifaceted grower and trader is very impressive. Its six acre, fully the rise in the cost of living just how well they do this Christmas will automated new glasshouse to produce bedding plants and perennials be keenly watched by all. A good performance in December is vital demonstrates a real confidence in the future. to cash flow in the lead up to spring. I’m I visited Torwood Garden Centres in Sterling Anecdotal evidence so sure many suppliers and distributors will be and branches of Caulders and Klondyke & Strikes and came away impressed by the far suggests a recovery in watching with even Anecdotal evidence greater interest this month. so far suggests a recovery product range, inspirational merchandising hospitality but staffing still in hospitality but staffing still presents major and slickly run retail businesses north of Hadrian’s Wall. I must also mention presents major challenges demands for businesses. The HTA monthly sales benchmarking tool called The Garden Retail the new plant shop in Juniper Green for businesses Monitor gives a far more accurate picture on owned by Merryhatton Garden Centre in how things are going. I do recommend it to you. North Berwick. This new venture in a former high street bank seems Of course December sees a peak in National Garden Gift Voucher to have got off to a great start. My final stop was to Growforth in sales and these have the potential not only to retain customers but to Dunfermline and a quick catch-up with former HTA President Stan bring new ones in from outside. The success of the HTA gifting offer enables the Association to do what it does for the garden industry.

Carolyn and David Spray from Pentland Plants with some of their fantastic poinsettias

Weather worries

I know some growers have had a delayed start to the bare root lifting season due to the mild autumn and consequent late leaf fall which must be a cause of great frustration. On the plus side hopefully many of you will have benefitted from a rise in tree sales as a result of The Tree Council’s National Tree Planting Week which took place on the last week of November and into the beginning of December. This is a campaign we must wholeheartedly support to not only highlight the planting of trees during their dormant time but also to celebrate the benefits they bring all year round.

Heavy rain has now fallen in most parts of the UK but hose pipe bans are still in place. While sodden soil will no doubt be further hampering the lifting of bare root stock and make it difficult for landscape construction, it is good to see reservoirs filling and hopefully water aquifers making some sort of recovery.

Our HTA team at Horticulture House continues to provide helpful support and guidance to help you navigate the host of challenges in doing business through these challenging times. There are many helpful resources on the HTA member’s website and we continue to update and improve them so please do take advantage of this support.

Finally, I wish you a very happy Christmas and a better and calmer New Year in 2023.

Find out more

The Horticultural Trades Association is the UK industry’s leading membership organisation and welcomes all sectors of horticulture. To join please email: services@hta.org.uk

G rowt h i s s t i l l o n t he c a rd s f or 2 02 3

Another day, another dollar and every dollar earnt this year has been the result of blood, sweat and tears! Like its predecessor, 2022 has been another year that has been navigated in any way but a straight line. A war, an energy crisis leading to a much broader cost of living crisis, supply chain pressures, ethical consumers driving demand, a weak pound and an unstable political picture – this year has been a full house in the weirdest game of bingo but yet we stand here looking ahead to 2023 with a sense of optimism.

Unlike other sectors, we are on the precipice of further growth, though admittedly, not quite the level of growth we witnessed in 2020/21, but growth, nonetheless. Gardening has proven, once again, that it is much more than just plants and lawnmowers. Instead, the nation is turning to gardening for the mental and physical wellbeing it brings. Gardening is creating a renewed sense of community; it is helping the next generation understand ‘food miles’ and where our crops come from. For some, gardening is helping to reduce the cost of the weekly shopping bill or is helping to build a sanctuary away from the unpredictability of the wider world. With gardening meaning so much to so many, we have an opportunity to expand our sector even more and encourage even more new gardening to the fold by extolling these many benefits.

Although we’re excited to welcome and encourage younger gardeners, pensioners still remain a key customer demographic and with the ‘triple lock’ firmly in place these shoppers are expected to return to garden centres in 2023 to continue on their gardening journey. Recognising this inevitability, are you ready to serve their needs?

Ethical consumerism continues to drive the agenda, and we’ve already seen a considerable swathe of brands introduce greener gardening solutions. In the coming year, we expect to see this increase significantly, as suppliers look to further improve their environmental footprint. Beyond products, 2023 will see more suppliers take great strides in partnering with greener service providers, while also looking to revamp packaging and logistics to minimise waste and plastic reliance, the latter being greatly influenced by the Plastic Packaging Tax and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations that together will radically change the way businesses handle their post-consumer packaging waste.

Launched in April 2022, the Plastic Packaging Tax now sees suppliers liable for a material tax if they don’t meet a 30% minimum recycled content on all plastic packaging made or imported into the UK. The second milestone, January 2023, will see all obligated businesses start recording their material waste by type, with the first charges coming into effect in January 2024. EPR will require businesses placing materials into the market to bear the full cost of the collection, sorting, recycling and disposal of packaging waste. More information about the EPR and GIMA’s support with the transition can be found at www.gima.org. uk/epr and www.gima.org.uk/plastic-packaging-pledge

Despite growth on the horizon, some words of caution are required - 2023 will be about holding your nerve. At a recent CBI conference, Tony Danker, CBI Director General said: “You don’t get up the hill by taking your foot off the accelerator,” and I think that this perfectly summarises how we should view the year ahead. None of the challenges we are facing presently are going to be solved overnight, so a lot of hard work and some cross sector collaborations could pay dividends in the long and short term. We are still waiting to hear what the Government’s energy support scheme for business will look like, inflationary pressures will be around for some time to come, and recruitment and talent retention will be key. Looking after your workforce is going to be more important than ever whether that’s by offering flexible working, cost of living payments, free lunches, travel expenses. Anything that helps may make the difference when pressures continue in the New Year.

As always, GIMA remains open to its members to support with a busy hybrid programme of both in-person and online events and webinars. Together we have weathered worse storms, and we can take our experience from this to help members navigate whatever 2023 might have to throw at us. We’re also here to help celebrate growth and opportunity with our awards programme, while also supporting causes such as the Greenfingers Charity, which remains our President’s chosen charity.

All that remains to be said is to wish you all the best of luck for 2023 and to congratulate you for your hard work, innovation and dedication that made 2022 yet another incredible year to be part of the garden retail sector.

Find out more

For further information about GIMA, please call 01959 564947 or email info@gima.org.uk

Vicky Nuttall, Director of GIMA

The Garden Industry Manufacturer’s Association (GIMA) is a membership organisation of around 150 members representing the majority share of suppliers and manufacturers operating within the UK gardening industry.

Formed in 1999, its goal is to promote the commercial, trading and industrial interests of UK and EU-based companies supplying the UK garden industry. Run by a small team of dedicated professionals, and governed by a council of members, GIMA is funded by membership subscriptions and services. The range of services and support provided for members is extensive, offering something for all members, regardless of their size or heritage

GIMA Events Calendar 2023 – Key dates for your diary!

• Garden Press Event February 21, Business Design Centre, Islington • GIMA Day Conference March 2023, Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire • GIMA Awards Entries – March to May Judging – 11-12 July, Warwick Racecourse Gala Dinner – 19 October, Celtic Manor Resort, Newport • GIMA Golf Day 8 June, Belton Woods, Grantham • GIMA at Glee 27–29 June, NEC, Birmingham