Landscaping specialist launches new business to safeguard jobs on back of coronavirus pandemic

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A growing landscaping and garden maintenance business has launched a new company in a bid to safeguard jobs on the back of the coronavirus crisis.

Planterra was formed when three existing businesses – Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd, Blue Iris and ProHort Ltd – came together under one umbrella.

Over the past 18 months, Planterra has relocated from its previous premises in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, to new, purpose-built headquarters in Barlaston which is almost six times the size of its old site.

Now the management team behind Planterra have launched a new venture to ensure staff have enough work to do all year round.

Managing director Jason Harker and operations director Emma Candlin have set-up OakHouse Professional to support new and growing businesses.

Emma said: “We moved into our new premises in December last year and everything was going great until the coronavirus crisis hit and everything slowed down.

“Blue Iris is a landscaping and garden design business, a non-essential luxury that people understandably weren’t willing to spend money on during the crisis.

“While our Japanese Knotweed business is very much linked to local councils and particularly the planning departments but of course, nothing was happening during the pandemic because the property market pretty much came to a halt.

“So we decided to launch OakHouse Professional just a few weeks ago. It is essentially a virtual assistance service which supports businesses from all industries.”

OakHouse Professional offers a range of admin, skilled and business support services including document creation, data entry, social media management, book-keeping and consultancy.

At the moment OakHouse is working with Staffordshire-based businesses, but the company is already looking to expand into neighbouring counties such as Cheshire.

The team outside Planterra Group’s new headquarters in Barlaston

Emma said: “At Planterra, we have 10 people working in our office and a number of teams who work on site throughout the summer, but there is a natural seasonality to our businesses and we are much quieter in the winter.

“So we wanted to provide something that would give stability to the group and our staff while helping other businesses at the same time.

“This is something I have had a passion for for a while now and now we just want to get the OakHouse Professional name out there and show people what we are all about.”

Jason said: “For me, one of best things about launching OakHouse is that we will not need to make anyone redundant. We are doing really well and we have achieved quite a bit of growth over the last few years so now we want to help other businesses to do the same thing – and pick up the slack for them.”

He added: “If local businesses are doing well then their staff do well which means they can spend their money locally and even have their gardens landscaped, so we’re hoping it will come full circle.

“We expect there to be a lot of new businesses which have been set up during lockdown, and people working for themselves, so we are confident that the opportunities are out there.”


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