Garden specialists set for boom

DIY and garden centre specialists should enjoy sustained growth because sales of gardening products are poised to expand 27 per cent over the next four years.

The first Focus Wickes Gardening Monitor, researched by Verdict, shows that sales of gardening products have doubled in the past 10 years - outstripping both the DIY sector and retail as a whole.

Sales of garden products are worth£3.8 billion this year, up from£1.9 billion in 1994. By 2008, the market is expected to be worth£4.81 billion.

Trends in DIY have been replicated in gardening.

Products such as patio heaters, gas barbecues, hardwood furniture and garden lighting have all become more popular. Some 83 per cent of respondents agreed that gardens are more influenced by fashion than ever. The average spend by gardeners over the past 12 months was£920.

Focus Wickes group commercial director David Pearson said TV shows have generated interest. He said there has been a Ground Force effect, with the BBC broadcasting 22 gardening-related shows - more than DIY and holiday programmes.

Verdict chairman Richard Hyman said: 'There is an opportunity for the major DIY players to take share off the independents (garden centres) with the growth potential in the sector.'

- Leader: page 11.