Covid-19 update Thursday 26th March

Homebase temporarily closes UK stores but its website remains open for home deliveries. B&Q stores remain closed and its website is temporarily unavailable.

As far as Gardenforum is aware, most garden centres remain closed.

However, Squire’s Pets & Aquatics shop at Twickenham will be open daily from 9-5pm, for pet food and other pet necessities. “Our team continues to care for the pets and fish in the shop and whilst there, are happy to serve the needs of the local community for essential items.”

Sales for ornamentals growers are expected to be down around 50% this year

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) reports on a survey of its members - Sales for ornamentals growers are expected to be down around 50% this year with some expecting a far greater fall in sales…

Although still early into the crisis for many countries the timing is critical with the normally busy Spring season and many flower-giving celebrations being directly hit. 70% of respondents expect to see growers going out of business this year and 65% expect to see significant cuts in staffing by nurseries. Financial losses in the Netherlands could be as high as 2 billion euros…

Mr Fothergill’s surge in seed sales

Since the Coronavirus outbreak began, Mr Fothergill's has seen a surge in online and postal sales along with increased sales in Garden Centres and other seed outlets. Now that the stricter restrictions are in place, the rate of sale has increased even further. It has also seen similar sales in its Australian operation and Bunnings has even introduced seed packet rationing.  “We would like to assure you that, at present, we have plenty of stock in place to fulfil orders though they may take a little longer to arrive than usual.”

Zest 4 Leisure closes

Zest 4 Leisure has announced that it is temporarily suspending business, including its home delivery service for online retailers, and has stopped taking or despatching orders for the time being, following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Monday 23rd March.

Commenting on this development, Steve Morgan, Zest 4 Leisure’s Managing Director said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused during these extraordinary times but we feel that ensuring we play our part in removing unnecessary stress on the country’s essential services at this time and protecting the wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and suppliers should be our absolute priority.”

HTA seeks clarification whether garden centres qualify to open

The HTA continues its lobbying, developing a proposal for UK nurseries to receive urgent Government funding support through a plant compensation scheme – taking a joint approach with the NFU.

It is also continues to seek urgent clarification from Government and other retail trade bodies as to whether garden centres qualify as being able to continue to operate as a retail store. From what it understands, those with a farm shop or significant food hall or pet store offering may be able to open. However, its members would need to make a decision as to whether this is the right approach.

It has also decided to cancel the National Plant Show.

BHETA postpones National Home Improvement Month

The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) has postponed its annual DIY and garden industry consumer promotion, National Home Improvement Month until later in the year in the light of the Covid-19 crisis. 

BHETA’s Chief Operating Officer, Will Jones said, “While BHETA is pleased to see the Government acknowledge home and garden supply as ‘essential’ in this very challenging period for all consumers, it did not seem at all appropriate to be actioning a promotional marketing campaign at this time.”

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