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.
Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area – updated daily
HTA chairman James Barnes said: “We have hit a perfect storm in the UK.
“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.
More from Covid-19 Trump gets Seoul population wrong by 28 million after boasting he knows South Korea ‘better than anybody’ Coronavirus LIVE: Spain announces 849 new deaths in biggest daily rise Coronavirus: Senior officer warns police over lockdown tactics after ‘over-zealous’ claims Coronavirus: A field hospital in Central Park doesn’t feel that strange Coronavirus: Boris Johnson under pressure over lack of protective gear for NHS staff Coronavirus threatens the future of public transport, councils warn
“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.”
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.”
:: Listen to the All Out Politics podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-lockdown-leaves-third-of-ornamental-growers-facing-ruin-11966115