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Coronavirus lockdown leaves third of ‘ornamental growers’ facing ruin

A major part of the UK’s gardening industry could be destroyed by the coronavirus lockdown – with a third of “ornamental growers” facing ruin within weeks.

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is asking the government to provide direct help to the sector which is facing sales losses of £687m by the end of June due to COVID-19.

And with around 70% of bedding plant sales made between March and the end of May, it warned at least a third of UK ornamental producers may fail in a matter of weeks.

The perishability and seasonality of plants means that an estimated £200m of seasonal plants will have to be scrapped across the ornamental horticulture industry.

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HTA chairman James Barnes said: “We have hit a perfect storm in the UK.

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“The seasonality and perishability that is unique to our industry means that growers are potentially facing stock losses on an ever-rising scale as each day passes.

“Stock is one of the biggest components of asset value in the sector – stock write offs will destroy the balance sheets of many and make it impossible for them to continue.

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“We are calling for the government to work with the HTA, as the industry’s representative body, to come up with a financial support scheme to help those businesses which have had to scrap perishable stock and are facing a huge financial crisis.”

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Around 650 businesses across the UK produce ornamental crops and employ more than 15,000 people directly and almost 30,000 indirectly.

Natalie Porter, of Porters Fuchsias in Merseyside, said: “Time is running out.

“Most of our summer stock has already been planted and will be ready in three weeks.

“Our remaining stock due to be planted will be ready in five weeks and go to waste in eight.

“We are facing a potential write-off of £350,000 in the next three weeks due to perishable stock. This would jump to £200,000 per week thereafter.”

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SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-lockdown-leaves-third-of-ornamental-growers-facing-ruin-11966115

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