The UK’s biggest grower of orchids has created more than 40 jobs after a rapid change of direction saved 50,000 plants from the compost heap.
Double H Nurseries – which supplies its flowers to supermarkets across the country – faced financial ruin when the first Covid lockdown took away most of its business overnight.
The New Milton business, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, hurriedly set up an online shop to send plants direct to customers.
A year later, its houseplant business, Love Orchids,is a permanent feature which has gone from a standing start to turn over £500,000.
It has created 42 jobs thanks to the success of the online shop coupled with increased demand from trade customers for other types of British-grown outdoor and ornamental plants.
Andy Burton, managing director of Double H, said: “We’d long been pioneering orchids in the UK but when the pandemic happened, everything changed.”
The Covid crisis left the business with seven hectares of greenhouses at its Gore Road site filled with orchids which had no buyers.
“Faced with composting plants, we wondered whether there was a way to get those flowers straight into people’s homes, and that’s how Love Orchids was born,” Mr Burton said.
The launch of the company’s first temporary online shop led to tens of thousands of orchids being sold directly to customers within weeks.
It secured the jobs of the workforce and saved 50,000 orchids which the company would otherwise have had to compost.