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HortiTrends Weekly Comment and News Digest - February 8th

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Nurseries in Ireland will be checking out the attendance of garden centres at Rentes Spring Show next week to get a measure of the confidence that is out there. They will be hoping that the sector is positive as Mike Devitt of Newlands Garden Centre recently reported to REI Retail Excellence Ireland "The Christmas trade was quite buoyant during December but the focus was on Christmas goods as opposed to general goods, for example nursery was down. The trend was towards artificial trees more so than real trees. From talking to colleagues in the UK, our Christmas retail experience seems to be on a par with theirs". While showing a very slight decline on 2011 figures overall, it was not as bad as some expected.

The GCAI have carved out a very nice membership deal for its members which also includes access to REI benefits and data. The inability of Garden Centres in general to benchmark against other retail sectors has been its 'Achilles Heel' for quite some time. The nurseries should, if not already avail of similar bench-marking data that is available from the HTA for the UK sector. It could easily be adapted to take account of any differences that may exist. Businesses will become meaner and leaner which in theory should make the sector more export orientated and competitive. This could happen through leadership and finance assistance from the Skillnets Opens Applications for €500,000 Training Fund.

Never give up on a dream. Ian Prices Garden Design 'One 4 the Journey...' Gets Hampton Court Approval shows the metal of this man. Throughout his struggles with depression Ian has continued to develop his business while also finding the time to design and create thought provoking show gardens. He is a good bet for potential sponsors out there in terms of positive PR exposure and value. There is also another way to go for Gold in Your Chance to Design a Show Garden for RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

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