HydroGarden, which was launched in 1994, is the largest European wholesaler of hydroponics – which is the process of growing plants indoors – following its merger earlier this year with Grow In AG in Berlin, Germany, as well as being a manufacturer of plant feeds.
The business sells world-leading brands and its own products to 33 countries and has warehouses in South Africa and Australia and offices in China and Spain as well as its UK headquarters in Progress Way in Binley. HydroGarden has now received planning permission to develop two of its existing buildings totalling 6,000m2 by adding a third building to increase its premises by an additional 2,500m2.
The 90-strong company has received advice and support in its growth plans from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub.
Stuart Green, one of the owners of HydroGarden, said Covid-19 had not affected its business greatly in terms of orders but they were mindful of the future. “We own three buildings but we wanted to expand on our current site, investing in Coventry, and the Growth Hub was really good in helping us with the planning process and considering future grant applications,” he said.
“Work will start on creating a new building because we’re a busy, growing business and we need more warehouse space.
“We are now over two months into the Coronavirus pandemic and our ‘working from home’ systems seem to be working well for staff that are able to work remotely, some staff prefer this and are more productive so this may prove to be the new normal.
“If this does turn out to be the new normal then we may amend our current plans to create more warehouse space and have less new office space and more hot-desking.
“I think a lot of people like the interaction of social contact in the office but we don’t know what is going to happen in the short-term or what the productivity level will look like over time from working at home over office based.
“The information the Growth Hub has sent through in terms of social distancing and the Government advice for work places has been useful and will help shape our future plans for our expansion.”
HydroGarden has also launched a subsidiary called V-Farm which is focused on farming vertically indoors using LED lights in warehouses, disused buildings and retail spaces.
Stuart added: “We’re developing these for supermarkets and shops and the idea is that it reduces food waste and food miles and is more sustainable. “With the pandemic, this is a topical issue and the response on our website has gone through the roof because of the healthy living aspect.”
Justine Chadwick, an account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said HydroGarden is focused on growing its world-wide operations and its Coventry base was a vital cog in the European market. She said:
“The number of countries which HydroGarden is dealing with is increasing all the time as their presence in the hydroponics sector increases year-on-year. “They have a strong customer base throughout Europe and we were pleased to provide support during the planning process because it can be daunting if you are not sure where to turn to for help.
“At the Growth Hub we can provide businesses with a wide range of advice and support from planning to legal services to access to finance and have been continuing to help companies throughout Covid-19.”
For more information, please visit www.v-farm.co.uk
Photo: HydroGarden which is expanding its UK headquarters in Coventry