Parfum Flower Company has been hit hard by the measures taken during the COVID-19 (Corona) situation. The company, which specializes in the marketing of scented roses and garden roses that are often used for special occasions, saw sales drop by up to 90% shortly after the first lockdown took effect at the end of March. Fortunately, a crisis often also offers new opportunities and Parfum Flower Company has been able to seize them by launching an innovative concept: Zero Waste Flowers.
Wouter de Vries
Weddings were canceled en masse and no one was allowed to meet in groups anymore, so almost all events got shelved for the time being.
''But we can't chalk up the complete decrease in turnover to this,'' says Wouter de Vries, managing director of Parfum Flower Company. ''Supply also came to a standstill due to the strict, but necessary lockdown measures. The reduced air traffic from, for example, South America and Africa - where the majority of our roses are grown - to the Netherlands caused enormous delays in our shipments.''
Wouter indicates that it was possible to receive shipments at higher rates, but because many of the flights were still experiencing delays, the roses arrived with quality problems and had to be destroyed. ''In addition to the loss of sales, we were hit a second time by the higher rates and these extra losses of roses.''
Parfum Flower Company is fortunate to be part of Dutch Flower Group (DFG). The companies within this family are working together, even more so in this current situation. Thanks to intensive contact between the companies within Dutch Flower Group and the willingness to support each other, the first blows could be absorbed. De Vries: ''I am very grateful for this collaboration and we hope to be able to give the same kind of support back to our sister companies in the future.''
There's been an increase in sales at Parfum Flower Company in the last few weeks. This is partly due to the local seasonal products from countries such as the Netherlands and Germany, which have become fully available again. ''This reinforcement with local growers helps us tremendously through this unique situation.''
''We have expanded our range considerably. But it is also very nice to be able to purchase part of our assortment locally. We always have a stock of fragrant roses and garden roses, but if we, for example, experience more delays of international shipments, we can now offer our customers wonderful alternatives and substitutes,'' says Wouter de Vries.
Foreign production and supply are also gradually starting up again and shipments are being received every week from the regular production partners from South America and Kenya. ''It is crucial that we get the supply chain back into a steady flow,'' emphasizes Wouter. ''We consciously choose to keep investing in this,'' he says. ''If we don't do this, many people will lose their jobs. In countries like Kenya, there is no social safety net as we know from our own government and after losing their job, people end up living on the streets. Even with a production decrease of 90%, our partner in Kenya has not yet had to lay anyone off. Quite exceptional, if I say so myself,'' says Wouter de Vries.
The grower in question, called Tambuzi, has avoided major layoffs by asking all employees to work half days. They also rotate one week of unpaid leave among all people. It is not the most ideal solution for anyone, but Tambuzi feels responsible for its employees and the local community and is committed to maintaining it. A special example is a part of the acreage of rose plants that has now made room for growing vegetables, in order to support the local community in this particularly difficult period.
''It's working with what you have been given, but the COVID-19 crisis has also brought us some new things,'' he continues. ''That's actually how we started drying our roses.'' Parfum Flower Company has to deal with strongly changing seasons. Especially in the winter, sales fall sharply, but the production at the growers does not, resulting in surpluses. ''We thought it was such a shame that we had to throw away so many beautiful products year after year that we started drying them on a small scale, purely to offer our customers something extra and to reduce our waste.'' Partly due to the current situation, this project has gained momentum since March this year and resulted in the dried flowers entering the market under its own brand name, Zero Waste Flowers.
Zero Waste Flowers, in turn, works together with importers and exporters within the auction locations of Royal FloraHolland and now offers an extensive range of roses, peonies, proteas, and many other varieties that contribute to sustainable entrepreneurship and reducing waste within the floral industry. ''We view it as an innovative contribution to a better world that was born from this situation,'' says Wouter.