William Sinclair sees sales decrease in 2014

William Sinclair’s sales figures saw a slight decrease for 2014, in spite of a better gardening year and new business from the The Garden Centre Group (now Wyevale). 2014 was a transition year for William Sinclair, with the company consolidating production from six sites to two – the new ‘super-site’ at Ellesmere Port and Lincoln – and part of the blame for the drop in sales has been placed on the distractions of relocating productions to Ellesmere Port.

The company’s stable of brands include J Arthur Bowers, Growing Success and Deadfast for consumers, and Freeland, Sinclair and Silvaperl for growers. William Sinclair’s sales to £46.2m from 46.5m, and underlying EDITDA (trading profit before exceptional items) fell to a loss of £850,000 against a profit of £1.78m the year before. As a result of the poor trading, Sinclair has said it will pay no dividend.

Even though William Sinclair closed Bolton Fell in June, the company was unable to start bagging operations at Ellesmere Port until October/November. As a result, the peat-free SuperFyba stopped production, and William Sinclair was living off reserves for its other products. As well as these concerns, the company blames a competitive market and historic quality issues.

Moving forward, William Sinclair has made changes to its brand architecture for 2015 as this will be another transition year for the new site and marketing to bed in. Sinclair, Freeland and Silvaperl will remain the professional brands and JAB the premium band, but Growing Success has been repositioned as the entry point for new or inexperienced gardeners, and Deadfast covers its range of controls.

William Sinclair now needs to win new customers to match what it claims to be the industry’s most advanced production capabilities, but CEO Peter Rush has warned that only incremental growth should be expected, rather than major transformation. The company

A large chunk of William Sinclair’s business comes from professional growers – 40% – but this is where the company’s sales have suffered the biggest hit. As most discuss their contract in the early autumn, the company won’t be able to open any significant new accounts until 2016. Add this to the fact that multiple retailers tend to re-assess their compost and chemical suppliers during the spring to take effect in the autumn, and it’s unlikely that William Sinclair will be able to make any significant additions to their customer list before the next financial year.

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