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UK: Florismart wants to end Dutch monopoly using tech

Steve France is chief executive of Florismart, a platform that is challenging, and successfully diminishing, the Dutch monopoly on the cut flower trade by culling layers of bureaucracy and middlemen.

While visions of vast fields of Dutch tulips hold true, the days of the Netherlands being the world’s dominant producer have wilted.

In a time past, those growing flowers needed to be within reasonable distance of consumers, for obvious reasons. But as globalisation brings us ever closer, and technology keeps the product fresher for longer, equatorial nations – where the sun shines and flowers grow more quickly – have rapidly dwarfed European output. Today there is a dynamic, global market, that is expanding rapidly.

And yet, the lion’s share of this output, in Europe at least, goes through the auction houses of Royal FloraHolland. Before they end up in your local florist, the flowers you buy have been passed through a daisy chain of businesses, each taking their cut.

France: “We were spending £100,000 a week on flowers – that’s a lot of trucks coming over every day. I just did some basic research and I was shocked at how much florists were paying for their flowers compared to us and supermarkets. And the difference is, we’re buying in bulk with great purchasing power and can negotiate good prices.”

The industry has bloomed over the last two decades. In the eighties, an average Brit would spend £8 per year on cut flowers – the number is now around £36, driven largely by the advent of supermarkets selling flowers. As a bouquet became part of the weekly shop, the industry grew to a staggering £2.2bn annually. And yet still the Netherlands dominates the trade.

“Everything goes through Amsterdam – the Dutch flower auction. Growers sell to the exporters, the exporters sell it to the wholesalers, then the wholesalers sell it to the florist. It’s bizarre that flowers go from Kenya to Holland and then through the tunnel into England, when they could just go straight to Stansted.”

Read more at City A.M.

Publication date: 8/9/2017



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