Staggering” Garden Centre Sales Growth for Smart

Smart’s Paris Natar has said that, in his 40 years in the industry, he has never experienced such dramatic growth and such challenging conditions. “Our garden centre business grew by 23% in 2020, despite the peak months of lockdown. In 2021, garden centres are already ahead of last year by a staggering 73%.”

Whilst this is very positive overall, Natar says there are enormous challenges, especially with availability. The pandemic has caused worldwide demand to spike and this has stretched factory capacities creating bottlenecks. There have also been shortages of containers leading to, at peak, an 800% increase in freight costs, not to mention commodity inflation pushing up factory gate prices.”

MD Jonathan Stobart stressed that generally garden centres are being very understanding as they realize this problem is not confined to any one area. “Even though our retail partners are supportive, in many cases even complimenting us on good supply in difficult circumstances, this is scant comfort for our team who hate not being able to deliver our consistently reliable availability levels in the run-up to Easter.”

Natar added: “The biggest problem has been that we have been prevented from building stocks due to our most optimistic forecasts being constantly trounced by higher than expected demand. On the positive side, I think we finally have the measure of the scale of things and am confident that our inventories will be much healthier by June. I believe that consumer demand will again extend into late Autumn, as it did in 2020, and we will be well placed for that.”

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