UK-based Hayloft Plants welcome James Oakey as its new buying director

James Oakley.

Mail order plant speciality plant company Hayloft Plants from Worchestershire has appointed James Oakey as its new buying director.

Oakey joined Hayloft Plants in February 2022 and quickly got to understand the business, whilst working mainly from his home in Cambridgeshire.

The newly appointed buying director is a qualified RHS horticulturist with his career commencing working in an ornamental retail plant nursery as a teenager having helped out on his families’ market garden from childhood.

Aerial view of Hayloft Plants.

He became garden centre manager at Great Mills DIY Superstore in Huntingdon, then worked for S B England in Wisbech, K J Curson Farms in Upwell and then as a national account manager at Boeflora UK Ltd giving him an excellent knowledge of supermarket supply chain from within the U.K. and Europe.

Moving into the mail order multichannel marketplace, working as a production and procurement manager at Marshall/ Unwins for five years before being promoted to head of horticulture at Marshalls Seeds and the Westland Group for another five years.

Two further years were spent as Unwins business unit manager before joining YouGarden and then Plants2Gardens.

Oakey has designed and built gardens at Chelsea and Hampton Court RHS shows winning several awards through his work and is also an RHS vegetable trials member assessing crops for Award of Garden Merit.

Hayloft Plants was very fortunate to be a net beneficiary of the Covid-19 pandemic and has invested heavily in its Hollyoaks Nursery site with a large new plant packing glasshouse, warehouse, renewable power in the form of heat pumps, solar power and EV charging points.

Oakey joins the senior management team at Hayloft Plants in what is an interesting chapter. Sales in the period to mid-March 2023 have been on par with 2019 before achieving the best week ever by a long way w/c Monday 27th March 2023 followed by the second best week ever the week after and what is looking like the third best week ever in the current week.

Strengthening the management team will make the retirement of the founders, Yvonne & Derek Jarman, much easier within the next couple of years.

Oakey is running the 26.2 mile London marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023 and has tried numerous times over the years to enter this event to no avail. This year he got the chance to run for a local charity, CamVet, The Cambridge University Veterinary School Trust, and leapt at the chance to tick this off his lifetime ‘bucket list’. CamVet is a not-for-profit charity to fund essential equipment and facilities for diagnosing and treating animals referred for care, whilst students gain experience and training in the animal’s treatment. It’s another win for James, a win for the students and a win for the animals receiving care.

He was hoping for a personal best time of 3 ½ hours having run his first and only marathon two years ago in 4h 15 with no training.  However due to picking up an injury over the last few weeks, he’s going to take his time and soak up the atmosphere of the event whilst trying his upmost to get around the course as quick as he can. He’d be very grateful if you could spare a few pounds to support him on his 26-mile journey by sponsoring him below.

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