The 40 year old family business surviving Covid19

Gloria Robinson

Founded in 1977, Tawny Nursery is the Howell family business. Today, at 93 years old, Derek Howell is still very much hands on, growing plants and vegetables. It’s incredible to think of everything he has witnessed in his lifetime, and he certainly wasn’t going to let Covid19 beat him or the business.

Derek’s children Adrian and Gloria are now at the helm. Through the years, the family have always tried to adapt to whatever came at them. They started a caravan park in the 1980s when agriculture businesses had to diversify, then opened a farm shop and café too. But it proved too difficult to compete with big garden centres and DIY chains.

Recently they found success in a new market: supplying plants to the leisure and tourism businesses in the area. This included holiday parks as well as many local pubs, restaurants and hotels, all of which would buy pots and hanging baskets. Unfortunately, all these businesses were all affected by the lockdown and cancelled their orders. The general public stopped buying from the nursery too. Things started to feel very shaky.

The family sprang into action, revamping their website to list plants and vegetables for purchase over the phone. With assistance from loyal staff, Gloria – who at 70 is well due retirement herself – has been answering over 200 phone calls a day and Adrian has been making deliveries from The Witterings to Chichester and over to Emsworth and Barnham.

The delivery business has enabled them to keep going, keeping in touch with loyal customers and building up new customers too. And their dedication to personal service still runs through everything they do. Whether it’s a few geraniums for an elderly person or for holiday camps getting ready to welcome back holidaymakers, they love what they do and that’s what drives them. The Howells send thanks to all the customers who have helped them keep this long-standing company going – and kept Derek growing his beloved plants.

Tawny Nursery is now back open and is only offering delivery for vulnerable customers. They welcome people to come and take a look around.

The go-to list of local independent suppliers offering delivery and click & collect in Chichester


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