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Eric de Bruin, Green Center Intratuin

NL: "Returning products to the season they belong to"

When one hears the name 'Intratuin,' flowers and plants immediately come to mind, as well as the restaurant and the Christmas department. Most plants come from Groencentrum Intratuin, the logistics center where the vast majority of greenery for the stores is ordered.

Eric de Bruin has been working at Groencentrum Intratuin for about 5 years. He started as a buyer of perennials, annuals, and bedding plants, but now he holds a position as Category Manager for the product groups Perennials, Annuals, Grow and Harvest, and Arrangements, in which he also manages several teams. "It's incredibly fun to do this job. The mix of purchasing, and managing teams, as well as visiting stores makes the work very varied. I often receive proud photos via WhatsApp showing what the stores look like. Everyone is very motivated."

Intratuin was founded in 1980, and IGC (Intratuin Groencentrum) is an important part of this chain. The entrepreneurs of the stores are allowed to make their own purchases, but they mainly do this via the IGC. "Quality and continuity are very important for the entrepreneurs; they want to maintain a beautiful, varied, and current assortment. To provide a bit of certainty of good products, we have to plan ahead. We are already busy with plans for 2025 and are now preparing the schedules for next year.

We are always busy with trade and making the right budgets for the coming season. The forecast is based on factors such as the weather, and that requires coordination. When necessary, we discuss it. Similarly, we contact each other when we sell less, and we discuss how we can solve this together. For example through promotion in the stores," Eric explains. "We are a strong team of colleagues, everyday we make efforts to organize good trade. The season is almost over, so in June we will evaluate all product groups together at the IGC, as well as with various branches. Then we put everything together and look at how we will approach next year with prices, sales advice, and purchasing. We always do this before the summer, growers need to know what the expectations are, and now everything is still fresh in our minds. We work up to a year ahead, what you see in the store now, was thought about last year. Trade requires planning."

Impulse purchases
"Looking across the store, we see that we partly have consumers who know exactly what they are looking for, and that's what they buy. Yet, we also have many impulse buyers who walk into the store and come out with all sorts of things they initially weren't looking for. Of course, we also respond to this, but we do so through the catering and all other parts within Intratuin. People want something fun to do, which can be sitting on a terrace, but also a trip to Intratuin. We've had a very wet autumn and winter, and people are tired of it. So far, we see that we really have a good season, especially with a few very good weekends in March."

Eric continues: "For us, impulse purchases are of course important, but it is also very important that we have products at the right time of the year. So, consumers will probably want a shade plant soon, because with the ongoing rain, you can expect that soon there will be a period with temperatures around 30 degrees. We also need to make it clearer in the store for consumers. For example, we always have sold plants that are suitable for bees and butterflies, but now we emphasize this so that consumers are more aware of it. Also, the aspect of sustainability and the certification of growers is important for us and our consumers."

"We increasingly focus on a fixed group of suppliers. In this way we can cooperate optimally while being sure that the products are responsible. Think of certification, for example. Ultimately, we benefit from the best trade and good agreements with growers and suppliers. Sometimes it's a bit more difficult during the season and then we will have to find a solution in accordance with growers. We are happy with our suppliers. The Flower Trials are upcoming, we will attend this event with specialists from the stores. Expect to see the most beautiful things there. However, it must be an addition to our assortment and also be good to grow. Many suppliers want to test things with us, but in practice, we don't have a Eureka moment five times a year. We regularly have new products in our assortment, but we don't make a story of everything. If it's really successful, then it becomes a fixed part of the assortment," says Eric.

"For us, a continuous and high-quality assortment is one of the most important parts of the trade. But whether we sell 10 carts or just one cart, it has to be there, and we must not have any leftovers. Our expectation for the rest of the year is positive because consumers want plants. Summer is coming, and that's no different than in other years." Eric concludes: "We intend to bring products back to the season where they belong. How normal is it to carry a pot chrysanthemum in June when it belongs in September? In June, there are plenty of other alternatives. Behaving normal, that's also a task we have."

For more information:
Intratuin Groencentrum
[email protected]

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