Octoflor, an international export & marketing company based in the Netherlands and with a Kenyan-based flower sourcing hub, is celebrating its first anniversary, and as icing on the cake, they are now also a Fairtrade-certified trader. They announced it earlier this month during the IFTEX exhibition in Nairobi, Kenya. But how did Octoflor get started? How did the company develop over the last years, and what makes this company different? We had a chat with Matti Arielle, founder, and director of the company.
The team of Octoflor at IFTEX 2023.
Like an octopus
People in the industry probably know Matti as one of the founders and owners of a leading import company in the Netherlands and later established a branch in Kenya. After 17 years, in 2020, he decided to go more global and changed the company into R.E.L Agri and then, last year, into Octoflor. "I think this name suits the company much better, as we share many characteristics with an Octopus, we stretch our reach and multitask by sourcing an assortment of flowers from multiple farms to worldwide destinations, we adapt ourselves to the ever-changing environment when needed, and above all, the team is made up of a variety of cultures, languages, and skills.
The company wanted to go beyond the Netherlands and the surrounding European countries' markets. The first two years, already with R.E.L Agri, the team focused on countries outside Europe, like Japan, the Middle East, and Australia, and other countries further from the Netherlands. Octoflor is pleased with how the customers have embraced the brand, the services, and flowers in these countries, and now, they also see a demand from the European market arising. "We are seeing that due to the ever-increasing labor costs and the shortage of people, companies want to put more resources in sales and marketing, and a company like Octoflor can support their sourcing challenges, thus offering them solutions, relieving them from the concerns of sourcing and allowing them to focus on the marketing and sales challenges. We complete their supply chain.
Most of Octoflor's customers are wholesalers and cash and carry's, mainly from the more premium segments. "This segment is more emotion-driven, meaning more short-term ordering instead of long-term planning like supermarkets." They can supply small and large amounts, just how the client prefers. They are specialized in bringing together a wide variety of flowers from various growers and suppliers from Kenya. "So, we have become a sort of one-stop shop."
At Octoflor, it is very important that the team enjoys their job. "Why don't we make things more fun? Also, flowers can be fun, and that's the story we try to tell, also on our social media", says Matti. Octoflor exhibited for the first time at the IFTF in the Netherlands last November and lately at the IFTEX in Nairobi in June, and for them, the biggest compliment they received was about the positive energy of their team. "Of course, at the end of the day, you still need to be very good in what you do, but combining that with a team that is energetic and having that fun factor. That positivity is infectious, and we feel it plays a big part in our business growth. Remaining authentic is key as well.
Future… more attention to Europe, more digitalization, and sustainability
Going forward, Octoflor will divert more attention into Europe, searching for opportunities to add value to the supply chain, and would like to digitalize their processes in the industry at the same time, they want to focus increasingly more on sustainability, which was one of the hot topics at IFTEX.