JOHNSONS of Whixley is one of the largest and longest-established and commercial nursery businesses in Europe and is a trusted supplier of plants and trees to a range of retail sectors.

The cash and carry plant service bills itself as a one-stop-shop for local and national trade customers.

The company which is in the running for Large Business and Family Business of the Year was founded in 1921, before being taken over by horticulturist John Richardson in 1964.

It became Johnsons of Whixley Ltd in 1993 and reached the £1 million sales mark in 1988.

Johnsons is a family business, with three generations of the Richardson family currently on the team.

Of the 110 permanent members of staff, 11 are Richardsons, including company chairman John, 81, his sons Graham, group managing director, John and Iain, managing directors, and John’s grandchildren Luke, Robert and Ellie.

Approaching 16,000 orders will have been received by the year end placed and in excess of 5,000 deliveries carried out to locations in every corner of the UK.

Nearly 400 new customers have been brought onboard in this year alone.

A new retail potting line worth £70,000 has enabled the operations team to be more efficient, processing up to 7,000 plants a day and halving the number of workers needed to perform the labelling task manually, saving 228 personnel hours a week, equating to £1,000 a week at peak times.

Luke Richardson took over the cash and carry side of the business in the summer of 2018, which has resulted in an increase in a 24 per cent increase in sales on the previous year.

Robert Richardson is currently taking over Johnsons' production operations and will have responsibility for growing more than more than three million trees and shrubs annually with a seasonal team of up to 90 staff.

Ellie is Johnsons’ first full-time member of staff for marketing and has been instrumental in raising the company’s profile via both traditional and e-marketing methods

Following numerous stages of continuous expansion, production now covers 90 hectares across five sites.