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Garden centres working ‘every waking hour’ but future after coronavirus remains unclear

PUBLISHED: 06:30 19 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:39 19 April 2020

James Debbage from Green Pastures Plant Centre and Farm Shop said the future after coronavirus was unclear. Picture: Nick Butcher

James Debbage from Green Pastures Plant Centre and Farm Shop said the future after coronavirus was unclear. Picture: Nick Butcher

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Garden centres have reported a surge in demand as people turn to gardening in self-isolation - but for some nurseries there may be no future after lockdown.

Green Pastures in Bergh Apton has closed except from the farm shop and post office due to coronavirus. Picture: Nick RichardsGreen Pastures in Bergh Apton has closed except from the farm shop and post office due to coronavirus. Picture: Nick Richards

Under government guidelines to curb the spread of coronavirus, garden centres have closed stores and turned to online sales, although those who offer essential items have been able to remain open.

James Debbage, joint owner of Green Pastures in Bergh Apton which is closed apart from the farm shop and post office, said he was unsure if his garden centre would survive after the pandemic.

Mousehold Garden Centre has stayed open to sell essential items during the pandemic. Pic: Mousehold Garden CentreMousehold Garden Centre has stayed open to sell essential items during the pandemic. Pic: Mousehold Garden Centre

He said: “I hope we do but it is difficult to know what is round the corner because the whole situation evolves day by day and we just react to it.”

Mr Debbage has had to stand down half of staff although some have been redeployed to other areas of the business.

Mousehold Garden Centre, like others, have reported an increase in demand for gardening products. Pic: Mousehold Garden CentreMousehold Garden Centre, like others, have reported an increase in demand for gardening products. Pic: Mousehold Garden Centre

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Demand, however, for gardening products has swelled with Mr Debbage ‘working every waking hour’ to fulfil orders.

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But he said costs were up, as work was now more labour intensive, so may not reflect in profit.

He said: “Every day is like a Bank Holiday in terms of people wanting to garden and wanting products. It is operationally massively different because we are having to put the garden centre to the people which is a lot more time consuming.”

Mousehold Garden Centre in Norwich is one nursery still open and has also been busier than owner, Tim Gee, expected.

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The 64-year-old said: “Normally our trade is dependent on the weather, if it is sunny we are very busy and that turns if it rains. Now we are busy all the time with deliveries. The telephone rings all day every day.”

The biggest issue, he said, was the lack of staff as five people were off work in order to self-isolate.

Mr Gee said: “We have some temporary people but very few core people. We are delivering out and it’s really hard work. I start at 5.30am and then finish at 9pm. But we are just doing what we can to serve the community.”

Due to increased costs, such as delivery and labour, Mr Gee said he was unsure about profit levels but he vowed to stay open until they are instructed otherwise by the government.


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