Column by the Management Board of Royal FloraHolland:
The world around us is changing. We, as a company and cooperative, must also implement changes to guarantee the success of the floriculture industry in the long-term. As the Management Board, we have received a range of signals and messages over the past few months. On the one hand, there has been clear criticism of the various changes and the speed at which these have been implemented; on the other hand, there is a great deal of confidence in the future and the digital dreams of Royal FloraHolland. We want to listen carefully to all these various signals. On occasion, we have acted excessively quickly and have not always been clear about why we are doing (or not doing) things. We have disappointed some and for that, we are genuinely sorry. The broadest possible support base is of vital importance if we are to ensure that the changes are successful for the largest possible group.
As a Management Board, we are not under the illusion that everyone will agree with each point of the strategy; that is almost impossible given the huge diversity of interests that can be found among members, buyers, transporters, suppliers and other stakeholders. The diversity in the parties that signed the petition, for example, clearly shows that the underlying reasons for signing were not the same for all parties. The floriculture industry is not just one of the most important sectors for our economy, it is also one of the most complex. That, in turn, makes the role of the Management Board extremely complex too. Sometimes it feels as if we have to choose between two sides, knowing that we will always disappoint one of them. This is due to the many interests and parties involved in each consideration or decision-making process. Sometimes, we are forced to make almost impossible choices. That is the reality within which we try to find the best possible answer.
We have drawn valuable lessons from the recent past and, during the implementation of the various changes, will certainly be more aware of the concerns of members, and the willingness to adapt to the corresponding changes. Within our strategy, we aim to provide greater customisation and fewer 'one size fits all' solutions. We will make it easier for individual members, both large and small, to work with the changes. That is the lesson we will take from the signals we have picked up from the Members' Council, member sessions, the petition, the market, working sessions and all those involved in the sector. We will not deviate from our strategy, however, as this would only serve to weaken our cooperative and sector. Issues such as Floriday, environmental certification, Nationwide Auctioning and Floriway will remain on the agenda, but in a way which allows everyone to build on them, develop accordingly and support the corresponding strategy.
We have intensified meetings with our Members' Council and members in order to better understand how this can be further substantiated. As a result, we have made a few important adjustments in the last few months:
- Postponing the enforcement of digital environmental registration and certification.
- The Members' Council has also been asked to provide further advice regarding the obligation for digital environmental registration and certification.
- Together with market parties, we are now working on a phased approach to the implementation of Floriday, whereby we will set a feasible end date together. As well as the phased approach, we are working on the more transparent and effective management of data, in a constructive manner, and together with all involved parties.
- We will involve the Members' Council in the implementation of strategies at an earlier stage. So, from the moment of problem analysis rather than the moment of determining the solution. We will be more focused on co-creation, i.e. making plans together. The management and supervisory teams will continue to be extremely valuable in this context.
- We support the Members' Council with (external) expertise during the implementation of its tasks so that the role of the Members' Council can be fulfilled more effectively with respect to the Management Board and members.
We aim to accommodate the various interests of all stakeholders - that is what we all wish to achieve. We would like to develop a working method that allows the voices of all interested parties to be heard, which exploits the power of the cooperative effectively and which facilitates growth and development. We can only continue to build on maintaining a robust floriculture industry if we work together. We would thus like to strike out on a new course, leave the recent past behind us and, along with the Members' Council and members, work towards the future in order to create a sustainable, robust cooperative and floriculture industry. We aim to continue our intensive cooperation with buyers who are vital for the success of the floriculture industry. We realise that we will have to balance various interests into the future but will relish the challenge of doing so along with you and the sector.
Steven van Schilfgaarde and David van Mechelen
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