25 acres of high tech glasshouses to open in 2017

Matthews Flower Group to boost British flower industry

Matthews Flower Group PLC will revitalise the British grown cut flower sector by building 25 acres of high tech glasshouses in the UK. "92% of cut flowers sold in Britain are imported. They have long carbon footprint and often lose considerable freshness during transport", says Ian Matthews, CEO of Matthews Flower Group (MFG). "The new glasshouses will enable us to produce flowers, and roses in particular, that the market demands." Bringing cut flower cultivation back to Britain has been a long held vision of this flower growing veteran who started pulling the threads of his business plan together three years ago.

Glasshouses
The first 25 acres of glasshouses which have planning consent, are currently being built in Somerset, Devon and Wiltshire with the first due to open in January 2017. They are from two manufacturers in China and are owned by the Chinese Government. According to Matthews, they use the exact same technology as the Dutch growers, but their heat and electricity supplies are at a reasonable cost. "We take our energy from consumer and manufacturing waste and anaerobic digester plants. At the moment, the waste heat goes into the atmosphere and we buy the electricity from the energy plant at more than they get from supplying the national electricity grid and less than we would pay, so we both win", he says.

Crop
Roses will be MFG's main crop. "The rose production in the UK is practically zero, we know of no rose cut flowers produced in high tech glasshouses in the UK", says Matthews. Other flowers that will be produced in the greenhouse will depend on the demand and prices but according to Matthews, chrysanthemums and lilies are a possibility.

Competition
The competition from imported flowers is fierce. "Over the years, these imported flowers have put many British growers out of business." Currently About 92% of cut flowers sold in Britain (£1.3 billion) are imported, predominately from Africa, Holland and South America. The British Growers only produce 8% of the flowers bought in the UK. "Over the next five years we expect we can build that to 25%", says Matthews.

According to him, British Flowers are in high demand. "As the only British grower of cut flower roses and with cheap heat and electricity we are able to produce quality roses, head sizes and stem length will be what the market and our customers demand", he says. "On top of that, we are able to deliver to supermarkets RDCs and other customers in hours of harvest, not days as the rest of the world, so our freshness and long life cannot be competed against by anyone." Currently, MFG is building their own website to sell direct to consumers and they will promote British flowers through advertising.

London Stock Market
Matthews turned the MFG into a PLC to be floated on the London Stock Exchange to raise funds to continue the rebuilding of the British Cut Flower industry. "Each glasshouse costs several million pounds and although our investors are funding the first 11 hectares, over the next few years we will require considerable funding to continue to expand and build more glasshouses to try and fulfil the massive demand for British Flowers, it also gives the British public a chance to support British Flowers by buying shares in a company that is leading the way to rebuilding the British Flower industry."

Future plans
In the next five years, MFG has plans and is planning permissions to build 45 ha. And over the next ten years, MFG will oversee and invest in the construction of 20 similar facilities across the UK. "We have enjoyed fantastic support from Government Ministers, Local Authorities, Land Owners, Renewable Power Providers and Investors around the UK and I am confident that this will continue long into the future", he concludes.

For more information
Matthews Flower Group
Ian Matthews
Email: ian.matthews@matthewsflowergroup.com
www.matthewsflowergroup.com

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