A family firm supplying flowers, plants and vegetables for more than 160 years is now at the cutting edge of technology after a shake-up.

Hartleys Nurseries, in Lydiate, Greater Merseyside, has been helped in its new aims by investment from Business Link.

Owners Ann-Louise and Bill Hartley have decided to prune back the fruit and vegetables side of the business and concentrate instead on flowers and bedding plants.

They sell home-grown plants and also buy flowers from Holland using a private network computer link enabling them to bid in the Dutch auction market.

Ann-Louise said: "I can get anything I like from Holland. If I want a certain variety of rose, for instance, I can get it this way and I'm one of the few people in this country using this system."

Business Link helped secure Objective 1 funding for the new plan which enabled the couple to redevelop a shop, office and greenhouse complex just before Christmas.

"The project will benefit the local jobs market by securing the future of our three full-time and 17 part-time staff and we'll be taking on two more full-time people this year," said Ann-Louise