Garden centre introduces delivery service to survive lockdown

Many businesses across the region are struggling to survive as Coronavirus has brought their work to a standstill.

Garden centres are among the places that have been forced to shut down while the lockdown is ongoing.

More than 2,000 nationwide means that millions of plants, shrubs and trees may have to be binned in the coming days and weeks.

The nurseries that supply them with plants say they face financial ruin.

£200m

worth of plants are facing the compost heap.

The Horticultural Trades Association has asked the government for £250 million to stop the industry collapsing. It says without that, a third of producers could go out of business.

Credit: ITV Border

The owner of one garden centre has told ITV Border how he has managed to adapt his business to survive.

At Bankmill Nurseries, near Silloth, the owner Bill James has decided to change his business to meet the challenge.

He's started a delivery service to take supplies out to customers instead. He said: "We decided that if Amazon is delivering parcels then why shouldn't we and so we take orders over the telephone, people pay by card over the phone and we deliver.

"Basically, we're taking stuff [plants] from a virus-free environment and we're dropping it off on people's doorsteps and not coming within a couple of metres of anybody."

Bill says his door-to-door service is busy. He said customers are buying "compost and seeds, seed potatoes this kind of thing. We're just doing our bit to try to help society and make people a bit more cheerful."

The value of lost plant sales in the UK will be £687 million by the end of June, the HTA suggests.

TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh said: “Hundreds of nursery owners and growers are facing huge losses of plants and revenue simply because the stock they have spent many months nurturing for the spring market – their peak season – will have to be destroyed since garden centres and other outlets are closed for business.

“This means not only a loss of billions of pounds to the UK economy and of thousands of jobs but, more than this, it will decimate an industry that will be unable to recover for the foreseeable future.

“I urge the Government to put in place a rescue package which will enable British horticulture to survive.

“Without it, our gardens and open spaces – a vital source of solace and nutrition to those at home – will suffer irreparable damage.”

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