Belfast Telegraph

Dickson Roses future in doubt after more than 180 years in business in Northern Ireland

Colin Dickson, from Dickson Roses in Netownwards. Credit: BBC
Colin Dickson, from Dickson Roses in Netownwards. Credit: BBC

The future of an award winning family-run rose growing firm is in doubt after being in business for more than 180 years.

Dickson Roses, which is based in Newtownards, closed the rose breeding side of its business last year.

Colin Dickson, who owns the firm which was granted a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1885, told the BBC that his two daughters wanted to pursue different career paths and would not be working for the business.

"Last year was my last year doing cross-pollinating on a commercial basis," Mr Dickson told the BBC.

"There won't be anyone following me on."

However, Mr Dickson said he intends to continue growing, licencing and selling roses for some years yet.

Mr Dickson's daughter Tara graduated in fashion design from De Montfort University and Lauren graduated in psychology from Queen's University in Belfast.

Colin Dickson.

Mr Dickson said that while their decision was a pity, he understood his daughters' choices.

Dickson's, on Milecross Road, specialises in creating new varieties of roses, exporting them across the world.

The business has also racked up numerous awards, with Lovestruck, a Dickson-bred rose, winning UK Rose of the Year last year.

Dickson Roses was founded in 1836 but it was the second generation, Mr Dickson's great-great grandfather George- who began breeding in 1879.

However, the rose growing industry has faced challenging circumstances in recent times.

"When I first started in 1977, there were about 330 growers and, at the last count, there are only 33 in the UK," said Mr Dickson.

Mr Dickson said that roses remain a major force in the floral market, with 7m roses being produced in the UK each year.

"Roses are still, I would say, Britain's favourite flower," he said.

Mr Dickson said smaller family-run firms like his are being priced out of the market.

"Some have people retiring, some have died," he said.

"There are also two or three big wholesale growers and they're dictating the market and the small guy can't compete with the prices they're charging."

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