A tricky question?

Who benefits the most from direct plant supply? Client, nursery, contractor or landscape architect?

We have been working as term landscape architecture consultants for over a year now for Churchill Retirement Living (CRL), one of the leading providers in the retirement sector. Since our involvement from September 2010, we have 5 projects already built, planted and occupied, and upwards of 25 projects on the books. We provide CRL with a consultancy service from pre-planning application, through landscape strategy and detailed planting design to overseeing implementation on site and into the establishment period.

Completed planting scheme for Elgar Lodge, Churchill's Malvern development

As you would imagine CRL run a tight ship, with customer satisfaction, smooth working processes and profitability all high on the agenda. With the latter two in mind, Terra Firma have suggested, and set up, a direct plant supply agreement with Hillier Nurseries.

Benefits? For the client; the obvious money saving without the implementing landscape contractor’s mark-up and the promise of a far better guarantee in consistency of quality of plant stock.

 

Planting detail at Windsor Lodge, Churchill's Princes Risborough scheme

The benefit from Terra Firma’s point of view is that we can speak directly to the nursery about plant availability, plant stock that is looking good for a particular seasonal timing and the opportunity to sort out plant substitutes before the project ever hits the ground. Working from an evolving standard plant list (that we created) there is the opportunity to grow stock on; currently CRL account for around one sixth of the plant stock leaving the Brentry Container Unit at Romsey – all of obvious benefit to the nursery concerned.

Drawbacks? Well for Terra Firma, Hilliers and CRL none to date. From the implementing landscape contractors, no complaints. The only objection has come from one landscape contractor approached who wasn’t happy with the direct supply set up, presumably due to the loss of profit. With 20+ projects currently in the pipeline, those landscape contractors who have been appointed are building up good rapport with CRL, and we wonder if the one who declined may now have some regrets?

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