Recovery in bloom at garden centre supplier bank support - The Evesham Observer

Recovery in bloom at garden centre supplier bank support

Evesham Editorial 4th Jun, 2020   0

A HORTICULTURE supplier aiming to capitalise on the reopening of garden centres has traded through COVID-19 with the support of a £500,000 loan from Lloyds Bank.

BHGS, a century-old business with a cooperative heritage, has seen demand slump since the coronavirus hit the UK as its customers – including independent garden centres, National Trust estates and growers – cancelled or deferred orders.

Revenues have fallen by about 30 per cent in the past three months, normally BHGS’s busiest period as people gear up for summer. The company has been forced to furlough nine people from its 60-strong workforce.

But now, buoyed by the easing of some lockdown measures, the Worcestershire-based company is hoping to return to normality.

BHGS has secured the loan via the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) along with an increased overdraft, if needed.

The company supplies products including pots and containers, fruit and vegetable packaging and gardening tools to customers across the UK. It also sells direct to the public from its garden centres in Evesham, Chichester and Hayle in Cornwall, and has been offering a delivery service during lockdown.

BHGS was founded in 1908, originally as a cooperative of local growers. Though it demutualised in 2001, it remains owned by about 500 small shareholders, most of whom are in the horticulture industry. Turnover rose to £14.1million in 2019 from £12.8million in the previous year, boosted by customer wins.

Nigel Letherbarrow, group company secretary, said: “So far it has been horticulture’s annus horribilis with COVID-19 coming at the worst possible time. The spring months are usually our busiest, with both our wholesale and retail customers buying supplies as they prepare for summer. That has been difficult in lockdown.



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