2009 Review - Part 2: July to December

Here is a brief summary of the events reported on Gardenforum during the second 6 months of 2009. All the stories remain on Noticeboard should you wish to read the detail.

Trading in the sector remained strong throughout the autumn. Figures from the Garden Centre Association consistently showed that its garden centres are trading 10% ahead of 2008.

Trade Shows and Associations
  • Most of the talk for the last 6 months has revolved around trade shows in 2010. Three years ago there was only Glee/Petindex. In 2010 there is likely to be 2 PATS shows; Solex; The National Plant Show; Garden Expo; Glee and Aqua 2010. Suppliers and exhibitors will have to decide which shows to attend.
  • Two leading trade associations, The HTA and Gardenex, transferred their allegiances from Glee to Garden Expo, frustrated by the past intransigence of Glee and preferring an earlier show date. GIMA, the association for garden suppliers decided to continue to back Glee after a successful 2009 show. They believe the new EMAP has heard and is responding to their calls to bring costs down.
  • The regional plant shows Eastgro, Four Oaks, Southern Growers and GAN 2010, raised their profiles to compete with the National Plant Show.
  • It was July when the GCA drew to a close its attempt to form GRO a buying group for its members. It left its partner AIS free to start again with ‘Inside Out', which packages homewares and soft furnishings for garden centres.
Garden Centres and Retailers
  • Patience finally won Dobbies its first planning permission of the year at Lisburn, just South of Belfast. This was followed shortly after with planning success for an eco-friendly garden centre at New Park, Aberdeen. Plans were submitted for a new build at Livingstone, a new town between Edinburgh and Glasgow; at Braehead in Renfrew; and at East Kilbride the plans were revised to include a hotel and supermarket.
  • A planning appeal at York was withdrawn. Controversial plans for a 60,000sq. ft. garden centre at Carlisle were approved pending government approval. Dobbies then changed direction with new plans that are half the size of the original.
  • Alternative travel arrangements finally brought a successful conclusion to the planning battle over Petersham Nurseries’ famous restaurant.
  • Malcolm Scott Consultants won permission to double the size of Forest Lodge GC and to link it with the adjacent Bird World. They had success also on behalf of Sefton Meadow near Liverpool, and Frosts Woburn Sands.
  • Gates Nursery and GC near Oakham also gained permission to add 25,000 sq ft.
  • Blue Diamond opened its innovative garden centre at Le Friquet, Guernsey. It takes the form of an octagonal doughnut, with the plant area filling the centre.
  • Whiteleys GC filed for CVA protection from its creditors. As did Focus DIY who agreed a deal with the landlords of its non-trading stores.
  • In July the reshaping of Wyevale completed when it changed its name to The Garden Centre Group (TGCG). One or two independents protested over the confusion caused by changing the individual garden centre names to reflect their location.
  • Garden centres to change hands included the Hayes site in Leeds that was acquired by Langlands. Hurrans flagship GC in Gloucester was reopened by Evergreen. Within a few months, news emerged that Tesco are considering converting it into a community supermarket.
  • Mike Gilbert, then of Hammond Phillips, announced a new 40,000 sq ft garden centre, west of Andover for which he was seeking an anchor tenant. In December he revealed that together with 2 other directors he had parted company with HP and formed their own practice, Gilbert Evans.
  • The troubled mail-order group, Flying Brands, switched its flower packing and dispatch to the UK from the Channel Islands. There were more changes to the management team followed by an announcement that it had raised a further £1.76m in a rights issue, diluting the shareholding of Sir Tom Hunter.
  • Webbs opened 2 Christmas shops in Midlands shopping centres and then announced plans to take over the retail operations at Garden Organics’ Ryton Gardens. Grosvenor GC also opened a high street shop; theirs would be a year-round operation.
  • Nigel and Jackie Eades regained control of glove supplier, Briers, which they sold to the Monro Group in 2007. While Rowlinson announced that they will be restructuring their business to focus on home delivery and they will be moving production abroad to Estonia.
  • The ‘For Sale’ signs, long displayed over Suttons Consumer Products, were removed and it was integrated with French parent, Vilmorin.
  • To improve coverage, Bayer Garden decided to replace its network of territory managers with independent agents by next summer.
  • Grange Fencing acquired Metpost. While M&M Timber took on the UK distribution for Hillhout. Bosmere Products was sold quietly to its major supplier H&I Trading on the retirement of its owners.
  • The Stewart Company drew attention to the £100m available from the Carbon Trust to help companies reduce energy costs. They had raised £400k for themselves.
  • There was genuine surprise at the decision by Faversham Furniture in October that Nova Garden Furniture would stop supplying the trade and wind down operations.
  • Avoncrop was put up for sale by its administrators and the stock liquidated; and the fate of Wolf Garden in the UK was settled as E P Barrus became the exclusive distributor. Wolf’s Swiss parent had been placed in the hands of an insolvency administrator in January.
Peter Dawson reported that there were signs of increased activity for growers supplying the amenity sector after a difficult year. Luckily sales to garden centres have held up well.
  • Wyevale Nurseries opened a second wholesale cash-and-carry at Earlswood Nurseries in the West Midlands.
  • Container Centralen delayed its pan-European launch of RFID tagging till November 2010 at the request of the market.
The funding of R&D in ornamental horticulture was thrown into confusion with the sudden suspension of HORTlink by the Government.

Defra sought industry views on plans to introduce a natural predator to control Japanese Knotweed.


All these stories remain on Noticeboard. They are filed under one of the categories listed on the left of the page. To search, use the search facility in your browser (edit – find on this page)
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