Riley Growers produce about 200,000 plants per annum with a small team of trained and dedicated full time and part time workers. Marie Riley manages all the company`s activities, plans and supervises production, deals with logistics and orders, customer relations and looks after the office. In addition she keeps a firm eye on health of the crop and plans and implements new developments. Meanwhile Tim looks after the dimate and irrigation control and ensures that all technology is performing smoothly, and takes more of an overview. Mariana is the crop supervisor and trains and organises her colleagues, looks after the quality of work like packing and crop work. She is helped by three staff members who are busy potting, packing, putting sticks and dips with the plants, sorting, grading, etc.
Moth orchid plants- phalaenopsis- from the majorwholesale UK grower.
Each year, Riley Growers Ltd. produce 200,000 phalaenopsis in over 6,000 sq. metres of modern greenhouses. This family company is run by Tim and Marie Riley, second generation growers with five highly skilled colleagues. Riley Growers deliver wholesale orders weekly to most of the UK: nationally renowned garden centres, multiples, independents and groups, florists, traders and markets. We grow a wide range of pot size, flower colours, markings, sizes and stem heights.
Our exotic moth orchids are grown from young plant stage to finished product in a rolling year-round cycle. Using dedication and the latest production technology, we are true phalaenopsis specialists, reflected in the high quality of our plants.
Jon looks after the daily running of plant and machinery including boilers, all moving and riding plant, the dispatch area including the trolley park and the irrigation. Together with Marie he also keeps the crop moving through all the stages of the production.
Sales are managed by Ian Ashman who keeps our customers informed of the best deals, good-looking plants, and helps with planning and reserving stock for your busy and not-so-busy periods.
Monica is our friendly administrator who generally looks after the accounts and carries out credit control.
Our plants are delivered by our helpful drivers in temperature-controlled transport to most addresses in England and Wales. We also use White Logistics and Andersons as third party drivers for addresses which are not on an obvious route or too far from our base in Gloucestershire.
Ralph and Edna Riley started the company back in the late fifties when as a young couple they moved to the Scarr in Newent to become tenants of the Land Settlement Association (LSA). This was a government sponsored scheme to encourage aspiring growers to become small holders.
Each small holding was set up with a small glasshouse, approximately 3 acres of prime horticultural ground, a small house and a piggery/shed. There were around 50 holdings in this estate each producing a variety of horticultural crops. Sales and purchases were centrally organised by the LSA.
Ralph and Edna soon got settled in and produced a variety of crops, such as celery, runner beans, peppers, lettuce, and children! In 1982 their son Tim graduated from Pershore College and set up on his own, growing lettuce and peppers. After a couple of years it was decided that it made more sense to join forces and Tim and Ralph set up a partnership.
In 1987 whilst Tim was recovering from a broken leg the idea to grow tomatoes in modern greenhouses was developed into a workable plan and soon enough the greenhouse builders were on site to build the first quarter acre. Whilst still growing peppers, lettuce etc, tomatoes in rockwool was becoming the main crop.
In 1989 the greenhouse doubled in size and in 1994 it was expanded to one acre. A new packing shed was built to make packing tomatoes for supermarkets more efficient. Tim's wife Marie entered into the partnership in 1994 and from then on, only tomatoes were grown at this time. The greenhouses were computer-controlled and yields were increasing year on year.
In 1996 the last part of the masterplan was implemented to increase the total area to 6600 sq. m. However in 1998 after a few years with low prices and an increasing problem of attracting reliable staff it was decided to take a break and rent the greenhouses out to a local strawberry grower. This was quite successful for five years, but being growers at heart Rileys grew restless and consultancy jobs in irrigation and environmental control although very lucrative, were not quite as exciting as growing crops.
So tentatively new crops were explored and they got into contact with orchid plant breeders who were quite keen to develop an English market. In 2003 the first plants appeared, as the greenhouse became re-developed to grow pot plants. This meant a benching system, upgrading of the heating system, screen installation and a new irrigation system, lighting and cooling - essential to make orchids flower. First in the smaller block for a three years and then two years later the rest of the nursery.
In 2007 it was decided that we were ready to put the full nursery to orchids as sales looked very positive. However plant material was in short supply and this hampered the speed of expansion. Despite being only 15 years old the greenhouses for the expansion plans were not high enough, and after some debate it was decided to take them down and rebuild them. Specialist teams from Holland cleared the greenhouse site in one week and the re-building of the new greenhouse five metres high.
In 2008 we started to fill this new and bigger area up with plants. Whilst we were re-building and expanding the same was going on in Holland and the production increased by around 50% year on year for some time. This coupled with the economic downturn resulted in poor returns. However working closely with customers to build long-term relationships worked well and by the end of 2009 we were once again short of production.
However on New Year’s Eve 2009, the world changed for us. A fire raged through the whole greenhouse spread along the screens. Until today it is not quite clear what has started it but the result was very depressing indeed. For the next 10 months the Rileys and their loyal staff with the help of the NFU Mutual Insurance, Cambridge Glasshouse Company and Hortisystems, were clearing, rebuilding, etc. the greenhouses and the crop to their former glory.
40 tonnes of glass and 80 cu. m. of plastic were taken away from the site. 50% of the glass had to be replaced and approximately 10% of the structure. All the screens had to be replaced and extensive repairs to the lighting and heating equipment had to be made. The whole crop was lost and that was replaced with the help of an elaborate recovery plan which was put together by Tim and Marie and supported by the insurance. The plant breeders: Floricultura, Bremkens and Sogo Taiwan were very helpful during this testing time.
On 10th November 2010 we celebrated our re-opening together with our 50th anniversary. This nursery has come a long way since Mr and Mrs Riley senior arrived here and today we progress forward to what is bound to be an interesting future.