After initially announcing it had planned to continue operating in the Florida market and sell only certain assets of its holdings there, Hines Horticulture recently announced it will sell all of its Miami, Fla., operations in full, including the former Lovell facility.
As reported in the Aug. 14, 2006, edition of GPN Weekly, Hines Horticulture posted significantly lower second-quarter sales, down 12.4 percent from the same quarter last year. At that time, Hines announced it had altered its loan agreement and would be selling certain Florida assets in addition to its color facilities in Danville and Pipersville, Pa., and Utica and Newark, N.Y.
According to the most recent announcement, Hines plans to dispose of its Miami assets in two phases: It will seek the sale of operating assets and inventory in the first phase and the sale of its two remaining properties in the Miami, Fla., area in the second. All sales are to be finalized by Dec. 31, 2006.
Reportedly sold to a developer, the Lovell facility, totaling approximately 150 acres, will remain in production in the short term said David Wadsworth, production manager at Costa Nursery Farms, Miami, Fla. According to Wadsworth, Costa will be assuming part of The Home Depot business previously serviced by Hines, with the other part reportedly going to Pure Beauty Farms, Miami, Fla.
“Hines is one of Home Depot’s major suppliers here. When it was announced that Hines was pulling out of the Florida market,” said University of Florida professor and GPN consulting editor Jim Barrett, “we were all a little concerned about how it would affect the market this fall — whether or not there would be supply shortages — but it seems to be working out now.”
In the short term, Wadsworth said Costa will be assuming ownership of poinsettias and mums already in production at the Hines Lovell facility and will begin servicing Hines’ Home Depot stores within a few weeks using this product. Wadsworth said the longer-range plan at Costa will include leasing additional land, possibly some of the Lovell facility, to accommodate the new business. GPN sources report Costa’s stores will be located on Florida’s west coast, with Pure Beauty reportedly servicing stores on Florida’s east coast.
“This is a huge opportunity,” said Wadsworth. “We are working aggressively to position ourselves as quickly as possible…it’s obviously in everyone’s best interest to work this out as smoothly as possible. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
At press time, representatives from Hines, Pure Beauty and Home Depot could not be reached for comment.
There will be a learning curve for anyone growing in a new location or taking over new stores, and removing a facility as large as Hines from the marketplace could cause a certain amount of turmoil. In the long run, however, industry experts expect both the quality and service in the Florida market to improve as a result of this change.
GPN will continue to deliver details of this developing story as they become available. Visit www.gpnmag.com  and search the news archives to read the Aug. 14 Hines article.