Members of the Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association (GIMA) are celebrating a spring sales bonanza, with suppliers fighting against the clock to meet demand from retailers. With garden centre sales up by 37% year-on-year in March alone, according to the Garden Centre Association’s Barometer of Trade, GIMA members have smashed targets as Easter’s heatwave and strong spring trading saw sales go through the roof.
GIMA Director, Vicky Nuttall, said: “Manufacturers, suppliers and retailers have enjoyed an incredible spring. Given the level of uncertainty over Brexit, and economic headwinds that have caused carnage on the High Street, soaring sales at garden centres demonstrate the industry’s resilience in turbulent times. GIMA members have led the way with product innovation, driving growth in key categories and helping garden retailers to keep tills ringing.”
Meadow View Stone reported record sales results for the first quarter of 2019, breaking all previous trading history with a 90% sales increase for March and a further 64% increase for April, compared to 2018. Marketing Director, Sarah Hill, said: “We constantly monitor trends in hard landscaping and utilise Google trends to monitor searches for our two main product categories of decorative aggregates and paving. This showed a continual increase in customers searching for the colour grey, which strongly influenced the introduction of several new unique gravels, pebbles, cobbles and paving to meet this demand.”
Fertiliser, substrate and sundries supplier Growth Technology experienced significant growth during the first quarter of 2019. The company’s sales to UK garden centres grew by 60% and 45% during March and April respectively. According to Marketing Manager, Manos Kanellos, demand was driven by rising sales of houseplants at garden centres. He said: “An increased customer base, good weather and renewed interest in houseplants fuelled sales increases of Orchid Drip Feeders by 250% and Houseplant Focus Repotting Mix by 110%. The company is increasing its workforce and is investing in new production facilities to meet demand.”
Consumers seeking greener plant protection products have led to orders flooding in for Sipcam, the company behind the ecofective brand. Year-to-date sales of ecofective Bug + Mildew Control are up by 64%, ecofective Rose Defender is up by 24% while ecofective Houseplant Defender had staggering sales rises of 160% as houseplants soar in popularity. Head of Sales, Nigel Thompson, said: “We are seeing good increases in sales as consumers become more ‘eco conscious’ when buying products for their home and gardens. This is demonstrated in EPOS sales, which have shown fantastic increases over 2018.”
It was a similar success story for Primus, the handcrafted home and garden gifts division of A. Perry Ltd. General Manager, Steve Perry, said sales for the first quarter of 2019 were up by 150% on last year. He said: “We have surpassed expectations in the first quarter this year, experiencing our best month yet in March. We have high expectations for the rest of the season and have a target to more than double our revenue this year to £1.5 million on Primus alone.”
At Elho, Sales Manager for the UK & Ireland, David Nicholson, was similarly upbeat: “The year started well with strong sales in January, February and March. The Easter weekend saw a real uplift and, while we don’t have sales figures for the period yet, year-on-year growth is 10% up. Our strongest sales from garden centres are as a result of Elho’s strengthened partnership with Dobbies. Our new collections of outdoor planters, Greenville and Vibia, have accounted for 12% of the 10% growth. It’s interesting that Vibia is an upper mid-market product and Greenville is price-competitive, showing that increased sales are taking place across different price points.”
Leading supplier of garden pots, Woodlodge, reported a healthy order book as the trend for container gardening gathered pace. Woodlodge said its year-on-year sales were up by 24%, with all but January showing double-digit growth. Woodlodge’s Managing Director, Michael Wooldridge, said: “The container market has performed strongly this spring, driven by innovation that has brought unique new products to market. The launch of our William Morris Pottery Collection and expanded flagship Heritage Garden Pottery collection helped retailers to drive container sales.”
Taylors Bulbs, a fourth-generation family-owned business, witnessed an uplift in demand for one of its revamped products. Business Manager, Ian Clark, explained: “We have been amazed by the success of our re-branded Chili Fire Bucket Grow Kit. We had a Chili Grow Kit in our range which we decided to give a refresh and ‘spice it up’ by amending artwork and changing the planter to a bright red fire bucket. The results have been fantastic, with sales on fire, more than tripling during spring 2019 compared with 2018.”
In line with the switch towards peat-free growing media, Dalefoot Composts said it has experienced an “unprecedented 37% increase” in sales of its eco-friendly Seed Compost. Business & Development Co-ordinator, Lizzi Meth-Cohn, said: “Our new ‘no need to feed’ Tomato Compost has been flying off shelves. Sales of the compost are already 25% higher than projected, and that’s before the formal product launch at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019.”
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.