Who will be supplying in five years? time? This was the opening message by Alex Newey of Young Plants at HTA?s Seasonal Plants Focus held on 21 November in Stratford-upon-Avon. Alex spoke of the reasons why as an industry we must be optimistic for the future. We need to do what we do, but do it better and collaborate, adapt, innovate and learn.
The conference, hosted by Young Plants Ltd and supported by headline partner Bulrush and associate partner Floramedia, saw talks on key subjects surrounding the seasonal and bedding plant industry. Supply chain, multi-channel retailing and extending the range as well as new happenings in the industry were discussed.
Putting supply chain high on the business agenda was the key focus by Philip Evason, Supply Chain and Procurement Solutions; Chris Beytes, Ball Publishing, and Graham Dunn, Cresco Horticulture. Growers were warned of the need to manage the demanding ?Big Boxes? aka the retail giants that are driving consolidation at any cost to the grower and making relationships purely data driven. The call to action for growers was to work for growth with like-minded people to create a sustainable financially viable supply chain. To do so they need be part of a highly focussed team of breeders, growers and retailers with no room for duplicating roles.
Meanwhile, ?thinking beyond the pack? was the message from Joop Kooijmann, Keift Seeds who encouraged delegates think inno-ventively to create new traditions and add value. In line with his views Nigel Judd from Thompson & Morgan spoke about the importance of keeping consumer interest alive by adding a twist to common species as they have done with varieties like Buddleja BuzzTM and Digitalis IlluminationTM and their most recent novel introduction of the TomtatoTM.
The Garden Centre Group?s Nicky Roeber, gave an insightful talk on their Click and Collect operation as it goes into its third year since the launch in Dec 2011.? By marrying the benefits of the web with the best aspects of traditional retail, Click and Collect was highlighted as a potential way for independent growers test their products online and get market feedback and in a low cost, low pain way which the GCG is keen to explore. It was also noted as a perfect channel to recruit new customers, particularly the younger generation, although interesting the majority of bedding plant purchases through click and collect are made by men.
Cultivation Street, Real Poppy Campaign and the National Garden Gift Voucher Christmas card competition were promoted by Carol Paris, HTA Chief Executive as exciting actions that the HTA will be developing further next year. Carol also spoke about exciting plans for wider garden industry marketing campaigns which will start with the ?It starts with a pot? initiative in spring 2014. HTA Head of Horticulture Raoul Curtis-Machin used examples from the works of Shakespeare to illustrate the use of plant names through time and the impact of the proposed EU plant reproductive material legislation.
Steve Jones, ReSharpen, captured attention with his number one rule for negotiating a deal? ?Get your stake in the ground early, firmly and stop talking.? His tips to growers going into negotiations were to know: What is your objective? What are your alternatives? What are you trading for? To set your limits and to put it in writing.
Stuart Lowen from Ball Colegrave, also introduced a new promotional collection of Rosy Cheeks trailing Petunia FanfareTM? in Flame, Yellow and Dark Lavender as a new fund raising initiative for the charity Greenfingers. The collection will be sold as a jumbo six pack at ?7.99 with a 50p royalty donated to the Rosy Cheeks Appeal.
Final thoughts for the day presented by Professor Andrew Fearne, Kent University included: What does success look like for you? Do you know your customers strategies and do they align with yours? Andrew encouraged delegates to look more closely, speak more clearly and to listen harder.