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B&Q drops growers in supply rationalisation

B&Q has dumped several horticulture suppliers from its roster of 35, leaving some facing huge stockpiles of unsaleable plants and losses running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The DIY chain refused to say how many businesses it had delisted. But HW learned of at least half-a-dozen unlucky nurseries and was told much, if not all, of the work had gone to Coletta & Tyson near Hull. The grower declined to comment.

B&Q insisted it was "working closely with suppliers to minimise the impact on their businesses". But one source, who asked not to be named, accused it of a "remarkable lack of understanding" on how its supply chain worked.

John Gwynn, managing director of AE Roberts based in Southampton, Hampshire, said his firm was still supplying trees and soft fruit to B&Q but was no longer supplying perennials such as Hosta, peony, Crocosmia and Coreopsis.

The contract included 10 lines totalling 110,000 plants and was worth £250,000. Gwynn said he was making efforts to sell stock that no longer had a market.

"This is not far off 10 per cent of our turnover and a third of what we do for B&Q. We are still assessing the fallout because plants such as Hosta have a growing cycle of two to three years and you cannot just switch it off without consequences.

"Last year B&Q doubled its order for Hosta to 40,000 and it's now zero without much warning. It's sad but times are hard for everybody. We are loyal to B&Q and hope to have a fairly long future ahead with the chain."

Nick Richards, director of Farplants in Arundel, West Sussex, said the DIY chain had pulled its contract for perennials and bedding plants, although this represented less than 10 per cent of the nursery's turnover.

"This is a parting of the ways and is very amicable," he said. "We expect to replace that business and are not predicting an impact."

He continued: "We aim to focus on independent garden centres and garden centre chains. We have supplied B&Q for 15 years but this has been brewing for ages."

Asked why the client had dropped Farplants, he said: "I don't want to get down to quoting what B&Q have and haven't said - it was done in a professional way."

Another supplier, who asked not to be named, said: "I don't think there was any intention to shaft existing growers but it shows a remarkable lack of understanding on how its supply chain works.

"I gather B&Q took a long hard look at its store profile and the only way it can get a comprehensive range into its smaller stores economically is by putting far more items on each trolley.

"If all the items are coming from different suppliers, they can't do that - an argument that has some validity. What they have done is put it all in one place, which means a long list of UK growers, and maybe Dutch, could find that they don't have an order for next year."

A B&Q representative said: "To streamline and consolidate our operations we have given notice to a small number of our 35 horticultural suppliers and will no longer be working with them from 2012. We are working closely with them to minimise the impact on their businesses."

Source : Jez Abbot - Horticulture Week
www.hortweek.com/News/1081069/B-Q-drops-growers-supply-rationalisation/

22 July 2011
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