UK Grower Focus

This month (July) we focus on Palmstead Nurseries and the inceasing range of International visitors to their nursery.

Who benefits from group visits to the Nursery?

We spoke with Nick Coslett, Marketing Manager at Palmstead Nurseries. "Here at Palmstead we seem to be increasingly on the agenda for International groups to visit us, which is fantastic."

"We’re fortunate to have received annual visits from two Dutch land based colleges and last summer the European Perennial Society ISU included us on their tour of UK sites. This year we’ve received a visit from the Polish Nurseryman’s Association and next month (August) I’m expecting Icelandic university students to visit. All this attention and interest from international visitors is very flattering and it’s an honour to fly the flag for Horticulture UK."

Is there a return on this investment in time?

However, these visits absorb quite a bit of time for staff to prepare. To meet our H&S rules we need 2 members of staff per 15 visitors. These visits absorb 2-3 hours of productive time per visit per staff member which can be an issue when they happen during peak periods. Does this pay? It’s not like they are potential customers who we will always be pleased to show around, but as we don’t export international business is not in our plan."

2500+ Species

"So, is there a return on this investment in time? Bah humbug I hear you say! Yes, the staff at Palmstead are proud of where we work and what we produce and like to show off the results of our labours. It’s good for developing staff skills in public speaking and confidence too. Not many nurseries of our size produce 2500+ species and variety across the plant spectrum from trees to shrubs with over a third as perennials."

Value in Connections

"So, we do like to show off our nursery. It’s part of our general Marketing and PR effort. However, this investment may not pay in new income from new customers but its surprising the value of the connections and networking these visits have made which help us to help our customers. We now have stronger contacts and links with some suppliers who were tangential at best before and made new links with more potential European growers."

European partners will remain a crucial factor

"They are somewhat perplexed by Brexit (aren’t we too?) but are keen to develop and continue trading with us. Some think Brexit offers an opportunity to produce more in the UK, but we are unlikely to double production in order to provide a substitute for imported material."

"The UK nursery industry may want to increase production but will never get to the stage of fully compensating for the levels of imports currently being received. At Palmstead we would like to and will attempt to grow more but we'll never manage our customers demands without assistance."

"Neither can Palmstead grow all the plants customers desire all the time. Traditionally 15-20% of what we sell has been sourced from other growers. Therefore, we will continue to need European partners for plants and Brexit will have to make this work."

Healthy Pest & Disease-Free Plants

"We must only trade with like-minded growers who we know well and trust to grow and trade healthy pest and disease-free plants. It’s the contacts we make at tours and exhibitions which are confirmed by visiting the growers nurseries that form our network of reliable partner suppliers. Relationships must start somewhere so do visit us! If a picture is worth a thousand words a visit is worth a thousand pictures!"

Nick Coslett - Marketing Manager, Palmstead Nurseries Ltd.