Nursery business shutting

After 36 years in business, Richmond's Bay Nurseries will close on Christmas Eve.

The garden centre's 1.2ha site on the corner of Bateup and Gladstone Rds was bought by supermarket giant Foodstuffs in 2007, but the company did not reveal its plans for the site at the time.

Foodstuffs South Island retail development general manager Roger Davidson said in 2008 that Foodstuffs was going through an evaluation phase and would develop a clearer picture of what they wanted from the site within 12 months.

Mr Davidson confirmed yesterday that the company remained interested in developing the site, but said Foodstuffs was unaware of the garden centre's closure prior to being approached by the Nelson Mail.

Owner John de Jong, who purchased the business the same year Foodstuffs bought the site, said the closure was unconnected to Foodstuffs' site ownership.

He cited bad weather as the main factor in his decision to shut down Bay Nurseries, also mentioning the global economic downturn and competition.

''The weather has been a huge influence these last three years,'' said Mr de Jong.

''If it's a wet day, nobody comes to buy plants.''

He said a rainy day commonly cut Bay Nurseries' sales by 50 per cent or more, saying another wet spring could be disastrous.

''It's the end of an era,'' said Mr de Jong. ''It wasn't an easy decision but that's the way life goes sometimes.''

He and his family planned to stay in the area after Bay Nurseries was shut, but Mr de Jong did not have any concrete goals to move on to.

He said he would ''take life as it comes''.