GTN July 2021 - Garden Trade News, UK

Page 38

2020 Vision… so last year!! Boyd J Douglas-Davies, HTA President

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or as long as I can remember people have talked of 20/20 Vision – I’d always thought this was the ability to see perfectly but it turns out I was wrong! It is possible to have better than 20/20 vision, the better you see the the lower your second number will be. The best recorded sight in a human was 20/8 but that still falls short of the oft quoted Eagle who score between 20/5 and 20/4! The 20 reference is connected to the distance eye tests are traditionally carried out at, 20 feet. You’ll have seen an eye-test chart, a Snellen Chart, and no doubt squinted at it like I do. To achieve 20/20 vision you need to read the letters on the 8th line down, below that and you’re heading towards Eagle Eye territory. Did you have 20/20, or better, vision in 2019? Did you see what was coming round the corner? I think now is the time to leave 2020 behind and start focussing on 2025, 2030 and beyond. So what do we already know of our future? Good old Heraclitus summed it up when he said “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change”. That is a great start and fits in well with one of my favourite challenges… “If you can’t do better tomorrow than you did today, don’t come in!” There really is no such thing as perfection, evolution is constant and relentless so as an industry we need to learn from the last 18 months and embrace the future. Along with constant change we know that UK growers don’t have enough space to produce all the plants the industry needs. For them to commit finances to develop the space, they need genuine longterm commitment from their customers. “How do we know what we will need in 2030?” I hear you cry. Well of course you don’t know the specifics, but you do know you will need plants! The worldwide focus on the environment and the immense benefit plants bring to the planet is only going to get stronger – breaking news folks, plants

are here to stay! As retailers you spend time and money chasing the loyalty of your customers. Isn’t it time we all started showing some commitment and long-term (5+ years) loyalty to our growers and suppliers? Without this why should a grower invests thousands, maybe millions of pounds, of their hard-earned cash? We need to collaborate more with manufacturers. Lead times and costs to bring goods in from abroad don’t look to be improving. Forecasting sales and committing much further ahead will become the norm. Of course, growers will need to commit to quality standards etc in return. Team numbers will go up as shorter working weeks and flexible times becomes standard. To offset this we will need to consider automation in areas of the business that can accommodate this without detrimental impact on customer service. Horticulture as a career will see a resurgence as Greta Thunbergs contemporaries look to make life decisions as they exit education. Training establishments will need to prepare for the new environmentally savvy student. Premises will change in look and format. Alternative energy sources will become more and more common, not just PV panels on the roof but maybe also across car parks providing shade for cars and additional power. With land being limited we will see a multi-storey garden centre before long in the UK, they are already in Holland. Maybe it will have a kitchen garden on the roof producing crops for the restaurant? A basement full of vehicle charging points and a fleet of electric rental vans for self, and instant, delivery. Lorries will arrive out of hours and drop goods in to secure, unmanned bays. Oh and of course, for peat’s sake, we will need to become the greenest industry – in every sense of the word – to ensure a lush future!

If you can’t do better tomorrow than you did today, don’t come in!

Find out more

The Horticultural Trades Association is the UK industry’s leading membership organisation. It welcomes all sectors of horticulture – to join please contact services@hta.org.uk.

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38 July 2021

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