"On Valentine's Day, around 19 million roses are sold in France. In the supermarket a bouquet costs about 7 euros, at the florist a rose can cost up to 5 euros. A profitable trade for those who import the flowers grown on the other side of the world, bought for a steal."
That's how a French magazine announced the program Capital on French television channel M6. It led to a modest uprising in which outraged florists attacked the program mainly on Facebook. Rightly so, or do the French florists overestimate themselves a little? And do they actually do good business or are they in danger of losing the battle with the big supermarkets?
France, although known for l'amour but not overly floral minded, is a big buyer of our floricultural products. After Germany, it is even vying with the UK for the second spot. Somebody with a good view of this market is John Westlaken from HollanDirect, an export company, which supplies among others many French florists.
"What is apparent is that the florist has had a hard time during the last two or three years," says John. "The country is still stuck in the financial crisis which the Netherlands and other North and Western European countries have long since overcome. The consumer, who has not been willing to pay too much for flowers, is now even less willing to pay a bit of money."
The florist is therefore in a difficult position. He wants, and sometimes has to, demand more, but there is a limit. "There are those that mark up the purchase price during the Valentine’s period, with 200 or even 300 percent. They say that they need this to cover all costs, but in this way they price themselves out of the market. Companies that try to achieve higher turnover by lowering the profit margin, tend to perform better."
With the threat of the large chain stores, which all over are taking steps in the quality and assortment, the temptation is of course imaginable. Yet there is a counterforce, which is precisely benefiting the small entrepreneur and that is the combination of online and an increasingly more detailed distribution. "Ordering directly in the Netherlands is becoming accessible to an increasing number of (and also the smaller) florists, as a result of which the local wholesalers have almost no right of existence any more. A party like us can take care of the logistics, so for us that is a positive development."
According to John, the broadcast of M6 was really a hot item among all florists in France. In the end, M6 even gave in to the comment from the sector. "The explanation in the eventual broadcasted program was adjusted in such a way that the florist was not portrayed as a shortchanger, but that many other factors led towards the high price."
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