Sector trends

Retail to wholesale: how one garden centre took control of its supply chain

Overcoming supply chain problems, a Lurgan-based nursery is expanding into the wholesale market.

Other issues such as long-term structural labour and skills shortages have had knock-on effects across production, processing, manufacturing, retail and logistics.

For instance, figures released by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggest that, among manufacturers, stock adequacy is at -16%, even though total orders are up 26% year on year. 

It is no wonder, then, that businesses large and small are trying to remedy the problem by reducing their exposure to supply chains. With less uncertainty over the timings of deliveries, and the costs of potentially scarce produce, they can better serve customers with goods and stable prices.

Green shoots of recovery

One such business is Lurgan-based Wilderness Flower & Garden Centre. Owner Kyle Archer explains: “We have significant scope to increase our sales volumes, but Brexit-related supply chain issues mean we’re contending with inconsistent and unreliable lead times.”

Dissatisfied with the gap between supply and demand, Wilderness has acquired nearby Hoophill Nurseries, which means exposure to new markets. “This acquisition will help us to ensure a consistent supply for our own business while providing us with the capacity to take on a leading role in the local market as we scale up our operation over the next two years and begin selling surplus stock at the wholesale level,” says Archer.   

Featuring about three acres of glass growing houses, Hoophill will supply Wilderness with its own ranges. The move to wholesale means the business will also begin trading wholesale, acting as a local supplier for florists in County Armagh and throughout Northern Ireland that, like Wilderness, are in need of a reliable and consistent supply of stock.

This acquisition will help us to ensure a consistent supply for our own business while providing us with the capacity to take on a leading role in the local market

Kyle Archer
Owner Wilderness Flower & Garden Centre

“Currently, we import about 50% of our stock,” adds Archer. “Owning this supply line will minimise the need for importing products, which translates to higher margins and major annual savings, particularly from transportation costs.”

Space to grow

Ulster Bank business development manager Paul Reid says the investment is welcome news for the local industry.

“Kyle and the team at Wilderness Flower & Garden Centre are seizing the reigns with this investment, which we’re pleased to be able to support,” he explains. “The challenges facing the business are considerable and restricting growth, but with the additional space to grow their own products, they can maximise profitability while also taking on an important supporting role for other local businesses responding to similar supply chain issues.”

The Hoophill site features a large warehouse that is currently under renovation and will see the development of modern office facilities from which to grow the wholesale side of the business.

When fully operational, the nursery will enable Wilderness to significantly reduce costs and expand its product range with new plant varieties.

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