Gardening Express says orders have soared since lockdown as green fingered Britons abandon traditional garden centres to stay indoors and buy plants online instead.
The Essex based business has more than trebled its staff to 100 to cope with demand and plans to double that number in the coming weeks, recruiting staff from other areas of the UK too.
As other garden centres, websites and nurseries have struggled to meet demand, Gardening Express have taken on their stock – and their staff – to fulfil an unprecedented number of orders.
This has allowed packers who might have otherwise lost their jobs to carry on working and is also helping to support a number of UK growers that now no longer have the traditional routes to market.
Chris Bonnett, founder of Gardening Express said: “Over the past few weeks, we’ve experienced unprecedented levels of demand for our plants, from locked-down Brits who are looking to enjoy the spring weather in their gardens.
“Gardening is fantastic for mental health and wellbeing, so is especially needed at times like this.
“Whilst other online plant nurseries have had to close during the Covid-19 pandemic, thankfully, due to the measures we put in place, this has not been the case with us.
“Many of these places do not hold and grow the stock they sell, which has caused many problems as supply chains crumble due to the impact of the virus.
“We have plenty of plants at our nursery here in the UK, but to deal with this additional volume of orders we have set up additional packing and shipping locations with a partner nursery close to our premises in Chelmsford.
“This has meant taking on around 70 extra members of staff, and there are plans to recruit even more over the coming weeks.
“Customers may experience a slight delay on their orders compared to usual, but we are working tirelessly to reduce this timeframe.
“Measures have also been put in place to keep our staff and customers protected during these challenging times. These measures were introduced in February and are under continual daily monitoring and review.
“Our staff always wear gloves when picking, packing and shipping, and always practice strict washing of hands. All our office-based staff have been working remotely from home.
“To protect our closed community, our staff attend work and home only, and order all their provisions online to be left safely for them, so there is no social contact.
“To protect our staff and customers further, all deliveries to our site and collections of goods are now subject to a series of strict protocols that include all drivers remaining in their vehicles, and full disinfection with industrial virucide spray of the trucks before our staff even touch and open them.
“We are fortunate to have a very dedicated and loyal team, and are staffed by many full households and families, which has really helped in executing this strategy.
“We’re doing our utmost best to keep supporting UK growers and by buying from Gardening Express, customers are helping to secure their futures – all whilst enjoying fantastic quality plants from the comfort of their homes.”