HortiTrends Weekly Comment & News Digest March 15th

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There was the sad news last week with the Death Notice for Fred Nutty – Leading Irish Horticulturist, in her own words Susan Tindall of Timpany Nurseries remembers Fred.

“My memory of Fred is appearing at the Alpine Garden Show in Dublin, always with a twinkle in his eye, and asking had I remembered to take along the plants he had ordered from my catalogue. As soon as he received the latest catalogue he would be on the telephone saying what he would like, almost always bulbs, bulbs that were difficult to find elsewhere and I would have only had a few to offer. After he had given me his order, I would wait for him to say ‘Have you any Tecophilaea’ (the lovely Chilean Blue crocus) hidden away you can let me have, the answer was not always ‘Yes’. I will miss you at this year’s Alpine Garden Show in Dublin Fred.”

If you have a memory or comment that you would like to add, please send it in and we will add it to the original death notice that will also become an ‘In Memorium’ article at a later date.

The Wilco Canada Recruiting 120 from Irish Landscape Industry has certainly got the landscape sector excited, especially those with itchy feet. The deadline approaches so if you are interested get your CV in today. If you want to stand out then don’t send in the usual blah, blah, blah CV which the promoter has commented on. Show your excitement!

What are going to be the influences this season? You can find some of them in the TG4 Garraí Glas Gardening Series Programme Content article. This is a very influential series especially among GIY’ers. All of the companies below will be paying special attention.

In Horkans Launch Updated Branding & POS Materials you will see, that they are actively developing the brand to coincide with their national expansion plans. Its also interesting to note that they are on the lookout for a ‘Head of Ecommerce’ which will see them also trying to dominate the on-line gardening marketplace. The on-line marketplace for horticulture will truly be a battlefield and the meek will not survive. The winners are those who are unique, trustworthy, authentic and deliver amazing customer service on-line and off-line. We are working with several companies to deliver what it takes to please the buying public. We are not recreating the wheel though. We use market data that shows us which on-line stores are delivering the best customer service already such as the best on-line stores for customer experience in the UK. To copy is to compliment.

Another way of getting the brand noticed and talked about is to be unique. Arboretum Flushed with Success After Makeover is making the media headlines and will have customers holding themselves so that they can spend a penny and more at the newly opened garden cafe which is getting great reviews.

He’s back! Donogh McCarthy – Meet the New Gardening Expert at Topline A new role for the well known ex-Woodies garden and plant consultant which will see the independent grouping of Topline Hardware & Plant Retailers giving the rest of the sector a run for their money, if Donagh has his way. Everybody is looking and focusing on plants and related sundries and its going to get more and more competitive out there.

Just ask Woodies, who will not be giving any ground away too easily and have run their own ‘Garden Centre of the Year Competition’ to improve staff moral and competition. Navan is Top Woodie’s Garden Centre this year. The idea is that customer service will improve and the old adage that its difficult to find knowledgeable staff in the DIY chains is changing slowly but surely. The ‘Plant Master’ himself ‘Paddy Gleeson’ is making sure of that.

The old-style co-op exists no more. They have deep pockets and are going after an ever increasing slice of the horticulture pie. Connacht Gold having recently bought Donegal Creameries are in the midst of an expansion plan with a promise that they will not just be sourcing as many plants as possible from Irish nurseries but that they will have to be grown in Ireland too. Now there’s a good idea! This will be welcome news for the part of the sector who concentrate on growing rather than sourcing. CountryLife which is the Glanbia backed chain are also going to be very active especially in the on-line market place. The advantages they have is the network of stores, that will fit in nicely with the ‘Click- Buy- Pick up in-store Solution, which will present them with even more selling opportunities. They may be relatively new to the sector and it may not be in the blood but they can afford to buy in the best talent and they will also be flexing their marketing muscle in a store coming to you soon.

All in all very exciting times for the Irish garden centre scene and there we all were, worried about Tesco and Dobbies moving in!

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Thank you.

Joseph (Editor at HortiTrends)