Monrovia will begin selling its branded plants in Lowe’s stores in 2013. As a result of an exclusive agreement with Lowe’s, Monrovia plants, currently sold in Home Depot in plain pots, will pull out of Home Depot.
The new relationship differs significantly from what the industry expects of a mass merchant agreement. The Monrovia plants will not be sold to Lowe’s at a deep discount, and Lowe’s will not have access to exclusive varieties.
“They will have the standard trade discount that applies to all our customers. So, no additional sideline pricing for Lowe’s,” says David Kirby, Monrovia’s new vice president of sales.
Kirby says that Lowe’s agreeing to maintain the premium brand image, partly through pricing, was key to Monrovia making the agreement.
Until 2010, Monrovia had sold exclusively to independent garden centers.
In late 2010, Monrovia’s lenders demanded the grower prove its current business mode was viable by selling $20 million worth of product to its current customers by January 31, 2011. When Monrovia fell short of that benchmark, the grower agreed to begin selling its non-branded plants in Home Depot.
“We came to the position where we had just so much material on the ground and a limited customer base. We had literally put ourselves in the position where we had independents as our one and only channel,” Kirby says.
Kirby says Lowe’s will not be selling an exclusive line or special brand of plants. “We will be offering plants in our Monrovia branded container with our Monrovia info-label,” Kirby says. Independents, however, will be the only channel with access to 2013 introductions in 2013.
The Monrovia/Lowe’s relationship will roll out gradually. Monrovia will be in only 120 to 150 Lowe’s stores in spring 2013; Lowe’s has more than 1,700 stores.
“It’s a relationship that is necessary for Monrovia in order to diversify our customer base. We feel it is important, long term, to have these types of relationships. And key points for us are that Lowe’s does want to honor the Monrovia brand through premium retail and a premium product offering,” Kirby says.