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The whereabouts of the FloraHolland Members’ Council

The Members’ Council has four committees, each with its own specific focus: strategy, finance, member loyalty and the cooperative. The committees research issues to be dealt with and advise the Members’ Council. But what exactly goes on in the committees? What do they talk about and how much influence do they have?

Below you find a conversation with Richard (Kiki) Fernandez of Kariki Ltd and Frank Ammerlaan of Rosa Plaza/AQ Roses. They both have been members of the Members' Council Strategy Committee since the beginning of this year.

The handbrake was on
Richard Fernandez: "Steven van Schilfgaarde came back to us at the beginning of November with his strategy and roadmap. We've had many discussions in the strategy committee this year. What I really like is that we are making good progress now. There is a clear vision and focus and we can see how all the changes are going to fall into place. Our input is certainly taken into account. The strategy committee consists of a good cross-section of the industry, with different backgrounds and opinions all represented. Because we enter discussions with fewer people, we can get to the heart of matters sooner and, therefore, more work done. It's easier to have interactive discussions. Before the arrival of the Members' Council, everything took ages: the decision-making process was slow - the handbrake was on."

We don't always agree
"During one of our discussions, I said, 'We need a man on the moon.' Like at NASA in the 1960s, everyone knew what the mission was: to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth. The mission was clear to all involved and that collective focus is what achieved the objective. That's what we need for Royal FloraHolland as well."

Frank Ammerlaan: "The question was, indeed, where will we be in 5 to 10 years' time? Everyone seemed to have different ideas about that, both within Royal FloraHolland and members themselves. You can see that traditional trade has changed over the past ten years and this is set to continue. To avoid having to play catch-up all the time, we need a clear objective, for that will able us to take good decisions. There is a battle of consolidation going on. Not all the trolleys are brought to the clock now; trade increasingly goes direct from grower to trade. But there's opportunity there in the guise of a couple of major long-term challenges. We should make it easier for consumers to buy flowers and plants so that they don't choose an alternative, and there is a lot of work to be done in terms of e-commerce. We need to secure a larger piece of the pie for our marketplace."

Challenge lies in implementation
"I think the strategy as it is presented now, is a more logical story. The challenge lies in the implementation: there will always be disagreement on that. We in the Members' Council do not always agree with each other, but in order to make progress, you have to take decisions. We need to become better, faster and more efficient, and we need to reduce costs throughout the chain. Also, we should increase the availability of our product: it's good for consumers and therefore good for us as growers. And there are some things you just can't escape, such as 100% Digital."

Richard Fernandez: "Steven has now come up with a clear vision and focus. The essence is that Royal FloraHolland wants to be an entrepreneurial partner for making deals, financial processing and logistics. There is also a roadmap with clear milestones. What will we get done by the end of 2020? The end of 2021? The end of 2022? And how will we do it? On Cooperative Day on December 12, Steven will tell us more. It's not up to us. We advise the management, but they carry things forward and hold responsibility."

On the leash of management?
Frank Ammerlaan: "I think the influence of Members' Council members has increased, especially on strategically important issues. We are included in discussions. We are heard when plans are being made. We're involved from our own point of view and with the interests of our members as the priority. This way, there's less intense discussion at the end. Perhaps some people miss the fireworks of the GMM. Or, from the outside, it may seem as if we walk on the leash of the management. But the way decisions are taken now really cannot be compared to how they were before."

"We don't have a say in everything, we look at the main issues only. You can't zoom in too much on execution and details. That's up to the management, who work on those things 24 hours a day. We don't. We have our own companies to run. Members sometimes forget that. If someone has a complaint about dirty barrels, then sure, we pass on signals like that. But we can't function properly for our members if we dive into every detail."

Get involved
What if members feel differently? Richard Fernandez: "Come and talk with us at the members' sessions. Or join the Members' Council yourself. There is a saying that goes, 'Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones', which means that you shouldn't criticise others if you are susceptible to similar weaknesses yourself. So, next year we'll be looking for new members: get involved!"

Source: Royal FloraHolland

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