Five years of Veiling Rhein-Maas
The creation of Veiling Rhein-Maas was a long-standing desire in the Euregion. Many growers and traders considered three clock auctions in a small area to be somewhat excessive. All merger plans, however, led nowhere until Landgard and FloraHolland came together in the joint venture now known as Veiling Rhein-Maas.
The start was a challenge. A single auction house had to be formed from three different auctions with their own systems and cultures. Said auction house would have to prove itself to its target groups with autonomous pricing, a sufficiently wide range and sophisticated services. This, in particular, is what the efforts have been focused on over the past five years. The growth of Veiling Rhein-Maas has been above average since 2010, increasing from €260 million to €350 million in gross revenue in five years, a development that runs against current market trends. In the Netherlands, the auction clock is increasingly losing ground to direct sales, yet Veiling Rhein-Maas is growing.
From the outset, collaboration was the means to this end. Veiling Rhein-Maas sought contact with customers to discover weaknesses in supply, while simultaneously finding growers to fill those gaps. Insight into the available supply grew due to, among other things, the introduction of an annual supply forecast for suppliers of potted plants. The digitisation of these annual supply forecasts allows the ensuing information to be used easier, resulting in a better harmonisation of supply and demand, and the prevention of supply excesses.
Veiling Rhein-Maas systematically promotes contact between suppliers and customers. During meetings for suppliers and customers (including at the annual customers and suppliers day) and during Together Active (where suppliers present their products directly to customers in the lobby of the auction building) good contacts are developed. This helps both groups improve their understanding of the opportunities and ultimately reinforce the auction.
Veiling Rhein-Maas recently launched its own customer magazine, ‘Rhein-Maas Temperamenten'. This publication focuses on the products, the stories and the people behind them, and the role of the auction.
We have still insufficiently managed to bind larger Dutch customers to the Herongen location due in part to legal issues such as taxes or legal form. Veiling Rhein-Maas has nonetheless clearly gained in importance for suppliers and customers in the region and elsewhere over the past five years.
Space - or rather a lack of it - is a common theme through the five-year history of Veiling Rhein-Maas. The recent availability of an additional hall at the start of 2015 has solved this for the time being.
There were two essential elements necessary to be able to provide a sophisticated service. Three different cultures from the old auctions needed to be distilled into one new culture for Veiling Rhein-Maas. The existing systems also had to be brought up to date. Today, the old cultures have largely faded and a new culture has been created. Employees are expected to work based on clear standards and values: understand one another, respect one another, be brave and be one another's partner, together and in the contact with customers and suppliers.
We are constantly working to develop and improve our methods and systems, and an important milestone was the investment in the new clock wall. This has made it possible for suppliers to better position their products via the auction clock and display important information, which can be valuable to customers in deciding whether or not to buy.
The challenge for the coming years is to exploit the opportunities offered by digitisation even better, to improve the process, but also to better gather and share information about the supply.
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