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Green shoots, white flowers and long pipes

Dave Harvey | 15:24 UK time, Tuesday, 7 July 2009

OK, enough "green shoots". After yesterday's avalanche of words and reports on possible recovery, a long cool drink is needed.

And in the Cotswolds, the thing to drink is elderflower cordial. Metaphor lovers can have a field day. First off, the elder seems to thrive in muddy ditches surrounded by nettles. Second, you can make a gert strong champagne out of its dainty flowers.

Memo to Mervyn: look in muddy ditches for the tonic you need.

ElderflowerAnyway, round Nympsfield way they've been harvesting, squashing and cordialising (is that a word?) for centuries. Then 20 years ago, a couple of locals started bottling the stuff. Today, Bottle Green is a multi-million pound firm, selling to supermarkets and cafes. Their ready-to-drink fizz graces hampers at Westonbirt jazz nights or polo at the Beaufort Club.

Last year was a shocker for them. Like so many firms, they had their own very private storm. Glass bottles, as I'm sure you all noticed, went up 30%. As did sugar which (of course) is traded in Euros, so the fall in sterling was bad news. Interesting, how many different reasons there are for a bad year.

"We're glad it's behind us," Nigel Osborne tells me. He's one of the directors, and his spreadsheets look a bit better now. They've changed bottle suppliers and lorry firms. They had to lose three of the 35 staff. And, best of all, the sun has come out.

"Our cordials are a kind of affordable treat," Nigel explains. "10p or 15p a glass isn't much, but with more people entertaining at home, it's selling well."

Enough of flowers. Pipes are the new metaphor for me.

"The news going into the pipe is good now, but the pipe is nine months long."


This gem is from a senior deal-maker at Deloitte's, Martyn Gregory. Not a man to hog the limelight, Mr Gregory brokers deals when firms need to raise large amounts of cash. And yes, last year was a shocker for him too.

Now they're coming back for business, he says. Deloitte just surveyed 250 medium-sized firms in the West Country, and found 51% expect to cut more deals in the next six months.

In October, that figure was just 7%.

"The trouble is," Martyn Gregory explains, "these deals take six to nine months to complete. So the news coming out of the pipe now all started back in September, when everything was frozen. In six months' time, we'll start to see the fruits of today's labours."

So: take 20 elderflower heads, crush them with some Eurozone sugar, put them in a deal-maker's pipe and smoke 'em. By Christmas, we should be in clover.

Is that clear?


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi there. We are a Bristol based company that manufactures new motorcaravans (Danbury motorcaravans based in Yate) and have seen sales rise by 250%! This year has gone crazy and more people seem to be having their holidays in the UK aswell as changing from 2 cars to 1 good all round multi purpose vehicle. Weve taken on extra staff just to cope with demand. I feel the economy is returning and most people we speak to are very busy with their jobs. There's a lot of press that loves 'doom and gloom' articles and only a few that likes to report a success story! We also buy from British suppliers whenever we can and support the UK economy by doing so. You'll be surprised at the difference it would make if people did return to 'lets buy British' and support jobs here instead of abroad.

  • Comment number 2.

    I jointly own and run a Property Recruitment and Headhunting firm based in Bristol and we have begun to see concrete signs of an improving economic outlook.

    For the last 3 months confidence amongst our clients has grown and willingness to recruit highly skilled staff is returning.

    The Property Industry is heavily reliant on the Financial markets because debt is used to make the purchases from homes to the large office headquarter buildings you see at Temple Quay. But as the markets recover and lending begins to return, the property market can spring into life as reduced prices offer investors good returns. So although I would say we are no where near back to business as usual, green shoots can quickly turn to something more substantial quite quickly if lending is extended and confidence spreads amongst businesses and individuals.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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