A Suffolk nursery is investing in growing its own business, with the help of a grant from The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative.
Howard Nurseries is a wholesale supplier of plants to garden centres, garden designers and local authorities in the UK and abroad, counting Sandringham Flower Show among its clients and achieving a gold award at the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show. It produces more than 2 million plants a year in over 1500 different varieties from its 170 acre site at Wortham near Diss.
The next stage in the company’s expansion will see it take plant label printing in-house, enabling the nursery to produce bespoke labels for customers. The project cost of £60,000 has been reached thanks to a £15,000 growth grant from The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative, helping pay for a new professional printer and associated training.
The new technology replaces Howard’s current labelling system that is deemed as old fashioned and in recent years has resulted in the loss of potential new customers. It also avoids having to outsource to Europe for expensive professional plant labels.
The business currently employs 45 people and anticipates adding to its workforce due to increased orders in the future. Howard was also recently awarded the New Anglia Youth Pledge Marque for its commitment to offer 14 work experience placements to local students and recruit two full-time apprentices.
Christine Howard, Director of Howard Nurseries, said: “It was a two year project and quite daunting at first, but we’re really pleased we went for it. So far this season we’ve really started to see the results – increased orders from customers, some good feedback, and it’s helping promote the Nursery and Suffolk generally.
For some time now we’ve offered work experience placements to the local high school and colleges and foreign language students. It’s fantastic to see someone come here and learn work and life skills – we all have a duty to help the next generation into the world of work.”
Chris Starkie, Managing Director of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Howard Nurseries is a local producer with a national reputation for quality. This project will help it continue to grow and contribute to our economy. The award of a Youth Pledge Marque shows how seriously the business takes its place in its community and in investing in its young people.”
The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is run by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with support from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the local authorities covering this area.
Grants are available to organisations looking to improve productivity and efficiency through investment in specialist equipment, new market and supply chain development and the application of Research and Development.