A cut above the rest!

A local company has become the leading supplier of cut flowers in Northern Ireland thanks to a successful contract with Marks & Spencer. In 2004, Greenisland Flowers was awarded the M&S contract to supply its stores in the North of England and Scotland, but this has now been expanded to include all its stores across the UK and Ireland.

A local company has become the leading supplier of cut flowers in Northern Ireland thanks to a successful contract with Marks & Spencer.

In 2004, Greenisland Flowers was awarded the M&S contract to supply its stores in the North of England and Scotland, but this has now been expanded to include all its stores across the UK and Ireland.

The Portadown-based company grows ‘Matthiola Incana’, otherwise known as scented stock, as a cut flower for M&S. Available in six different colours, scented stock is a difficult flower to grow, but through trials at Greenmount College for Horticulture & Agriculture in 2003, Greenisland Flowers discovered that they could extend its blooming season significantly.

“Scented stock is a very popular cut flower product for M&S and we have worked closely with Greenisland Flowers, who have become a very important supplier to us. Indeed, scented stock is M&S’s biggest selling seasonal cut flower during the summer,” said Karen Howard, M&S Technologist who specialises in cut flowers. “Greenisland Flowers has been proactive in identifying a gap in supply and, as a result, has programmed its season to fill the shortfalls, as well as producing a high quality stock with a considerably longer shelf life,” added Karen.

Unusually, the secret to the flowers’ success is the cooler climate that Northern Ireland enjoys. “With temperatures here normally 5-10 degrees cooler than England and Holland, we are able to enjoy prolonged growth and can incorporate two crops within the one calendar year using poly tunnels,” explained Shane Donnelly, owner of Greenisland Flowers.

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