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MARKET REPORT GARDEN & GROUNDS CARE continued


“It has been difficult determining trends, especially with the bad weather that caused activity to virtually shut down at the start of the year,” says Operations Director, Simon Reynolds. “Business picked up in the spring and we had a blinding March and April. Long-term hire to local authorities and contractors has been quieter, owing to budgeting uncertainties and the postponement of some projects.


Chippers have been proving popular for Acacia Groundcare Rental. Investment in equipment


“However, we have noticed increased demand for short term hires, which brings greater revenue in the long run. Many golf courses and sports clubs delayed autumn maintenance work until the spring, and we have invested in appropriate equipment for the fleet, like the BLEC Combinator, which attracts a good hire rate. It was one of a tranche of machines we supplied to contractors working at Fulham FC for close season renovation. Turfleet Hire has also provided equipment to Chelsea and Brentford.


“Our northern operation, based near Lincoln, continues to develop. Last year, we were aware that a small number of local authority contracts represented a large proportion of business, and we have adjusted the fleet to meet the needs of short-term hire customers, meaning that the client base is now more representative of the market as a whole.”


Turfleet Hire and Browns Groundcare will be exhibiting at IOG Saltex in September, as will Hirebase, the hire activity of the merchant, Buildbase. “Saltex is an important opportunity to meet professionals like council staff, contractors and landscapers,” says Buildbase Group Hire Manager, Adrian Watts. “This is established as an important market for us now, and the number of hits our website receives for this kind of equipment proves it.We can supply contractors working throughout the country through our national depot network, and we also offer servicing and repair facilities.We are in addition exploring the possibility of offering more equipment for sale, such as mowers, chainsaws and brushcutters.”


Budget-conscious schools are hiring from us, enabling bursars to save money, and our rapid response and backup gives the groundsman peace of mind.


Housebuilding activity


“Last year, landscapers were frequently asking us for quotes to supply packages of equipment for possible projects, but their clients were ultimately not proceeding because of economic uncertainties. However, a greater proportion of such enquiries are now leading to orders. Smaller property developers in our region are now building more houses again, creating demand for landscaping machinery, and the severe winter delayed a lot of tree maintenance work, leading to orders for items like woodchippers well into early summer.”


Hirebase reports growing demand for landscaping equipment like Thwaites’ Micro 300 walk-behind dumper.


Supplying equipment for gardening and grounds care tasks is also proving to be a good niche for local independents like Bright Acres Tool Hire, which has branches in Stowmarket and Ipswich. “There is a lot of work going on at the moment, and more planning approvals are being given for projects,” says Partner Duncan Macdonald. “All our Volvo and Kubota mini excavators are on hire at the moment, mainly to small builders for building extensions, driveways and garden improvements.


“This is a largely rural area and there is steady demand for equipment to be used in gardens, estates and allotments. Other popular products include Hayter Condor and Honda Izy rotary mowers, Timberwolf chippers, and our Barreto cultivator from The Hire Supply Company, which is several years old but looks as good as new. It never gets damaged.”


Another hirer in positive mood is Acacia Groundcare Rental, which is based in Henfield, West Sussex, and serves most of the south/south eastern corner of England. “Business is buoyant,” says MD Ritain Patel. “We are now in our third trading year and more people are aware of us. Demand is across the board, including landscapers and contractors, and we are also crosshiring to other companies.


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Whether their customers are councils, contractors or homeowners, hirers are helping ensure that high standards of grounds care and landscape management are being maintained, by adhering to the basic principles of offering the right equipment at sensible rates, backed up by a flexible and pro-active outlook.





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