One man's recession is another's seed-bed - Alaric Hamilton expects a blooming future. Geoffrey Foster.
When the recession finally blows away, who will be any better off as a result of it? Not many people, for sure, but Alaric Hamilton expects to be among them. Hamilton is a nurseryman, a grower of ornamental outdoor plants. Eighteen months ago he bought a run-down and little known nursery (little enough known even in the horticultural trade) three or four miles from Woking in Surrey. When the good times return, he reckons, it will be a goldmine - and partly because of the recession.
This story has only just begun and, frankly, it already is plausible. The horticultural industry has been feeling the pinch of late, just like most others. Almost all are small businesses. The majority turn over £1 million or less, and a lot of these have been knocked sideways by interest rates. Some of the bigger firms have been too. For the past year or so the trade press has of gloomy reports of cost-cutting programmes, redundancies, closures and receiverships. When trading starts to deteriorate, it's usually very difficult for anyone in the trade, and particularly for a newcomer, to draught.