Heavy lobbying from the ornamental plants and horticultural industry may see the UK’s 2000 garden centres joining DIY stores and super-markets in opening their doors again to sell plants.
The easing of restrictions on selling plants through retail outlets could be life-saving news for Newey Ltd, which has nurseries nationwide and has already sunk 85% of its investment in growing seedlings and pot-ting-on plants for the summer 2020 season. The three month period be-tween April and June is crucial for the ornamental horticultural industry.
Newey Ltd is the UK’s 2nd largest wholesale suppler of plants and flowers. Normally it has a turnover of £40 million per annum and was expecting to employ 170 people before the coronavirus crisis cut its routes to market in March.
Newey has had to adapt fast and radically change its business model. It has had to try to reach customers living close to its nurseries in Chichester and Eavesham and bases in Kent and Stratford Upon Avon.
Its website plants2people.com and Facebook page Plants2People went live on April 3rd and already it has taken over 2350 orders. As well as competitive pricing, Plants2People.com gives 10% of sales to NHS charities. £15,000 has already been raised for the NHS.
Alex Newey, Director of Newey Ltd says, “Plants2People.com has been borne out of a desperate situation. This initiative has been put together in such a short few days and has been a real team effort, I’ve even en-listing friends and family to help with deliveries.”
Plants2People.com plans to gradually move from a local delivery service to a nationwide operation over the coming weeks. Says Newey, “We be-lieve in it and hope to keep it as an important part of our business.”
Martyn Thomas, Newey’s business partner who also works in the Strat-ford Upon Avon office says, “It has been such a delight to see our plants arriving on peoples’ doorsteps. Our customers have been really wanting to garden but have struggled with the shops not being open. It has been amazing to see the smiles on their faces, knowing that they are also doing their bit to ensure that healthy plants which might have otherwise gone to the recycling bin, get into the ground in time”.
“This has been the hardest season ever faced by the British ornamental horticultural industry, but green shoots are starting to appear for us at last. We are thrilled to be able to turn our attention again to our tradi-tional wholesale business, whilst continuing to keep a presence in the direct-to-consumer online market.”