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Big Features

Insights into life all over the flower sector.


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Bloomon, a Dutch start-up bouquet subscription service, launched in the UK in February following an €8 million funding injection from international investors. The move marks another step amidst a rumble of activity in flower and plant subscription services, with a cluster of start-ups enjoying serious levels of funding and mounting respect from tech and business circles, as well as smaller established flower businesses jumping on the band-wagon and making it work.

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Hampshire-based wedding and events florist Jay Archer, whose signature style and dedication has garnered awards and nationwide recognition, organised an enchanting cocktail evening in celebration of British Flowers Week last month. We spoke to Jay to discuss the importance of the cause, the impact events like this can have on a florist business, and what went into creating such a magnificent floral setting.

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It’s been a month since RHS Chelsea closed its famous floral gates for 2016, and nearly a month to go before its sister show begins at Hampton Court. Chelsea hype has now calmed but it’s far from a distant memory for 32 competitors who put their all into creating the finest floristry UK and Ireland has to offer. This year we followed one of 2014’s Silver medallists, Karen Massey from Dublin, along her second Chelsea journey as she scooped another medal in 2016.

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“You’ll never do it!” They said. “The industry isn’t ready!” They exclaimed. The first splash made by futuristic flower buying concept Florismart wasn’t exactly plain sailing. Whilst the world has just about got the hang of comparing insurance and airfare online, purchasing wholesale stock was always going to take a little longer. But speak to the converted and you’ll see exactly what makes it so special.

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Given it's six months since we were in Colombia you'd be forgiven for thinking memories would fade and enthusiasm waned. Far from it. For whilst Caroline has been a proud Ambassador for Colombia for over 20 years, Hannah was making her first visit but it was love at first trip! As she discovered behind millions of flowers is a growing economy for a changing country, fuelled by promise, hundreds of thousands of people and above all passion. In celebration of Colombian Children's Day, given they are the people who have and continue to benefit so much from the Colombian flower industry, she reports on what makes such a difference to every part of the flower chain.

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"I'm now chomping at the bit to make changes", said one florist following last year's Vision conference. This year's event promises to be just as thought-provoking, inspiring, empowering, and interesting with a breadth of topics from costing and logistics to marketing in the digital age, targeting millennials and 'sexing up floristry'... Yes Vision '16 is set to have it all!

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Price hikes of up to 40%? Run out of pinks? Forgotten foliage? Without wishing to put the fear of God into our readers, we spoke to the UK's flower suppliers to find out what's really about to go down this Mother's Day and sadly, it ain't looking good. But it's not all doom and gloom, there are some seriously good opportunities and we'd rather you were prepared and pleasantly surprised than totally shafted come March 6th.

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Twenty things we learnt at the 2020 Vision conference... what will 2016 bring?

Last year's 2020 Vision conference was met with phenomenal praise from florist delegates who went home feeling truly impassioned and inspired to change the way they do business. After a whole day jam-packed with debate and discussion we couldn't share every single detail, but we've picked 20 insights, quotes, figures and interesting ideas to share with you.

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Steve Wood and Tracy Rowbottom make an odd couple. One is boho chic, a fabulously creative florist and designer who spent 20 years running their own shop and laughs a lot. The other, whilst certainly not taciturn, is more serious, as an accountant more inclined to use a calculator than a pair of scissors and will probably get more excited by the profit margin of a product than its design potential.

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These days virtually everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer. But however remotely you know them it is never easy. So was the case of Lucy Ashton who we met in April '15. After a career in FMCG, Lucy opened The Dandelion Clock in Sheffield. A feisty, articulate and intelligent second career florist she spoke brilliantly at Vision 2020 in April and we had her marked out for an interview. A month later she was diagnosed with one of the worst forms of breast cancer. Five months later and in honour of Cancer Awareness Month we publish her article. Perhaps not the one we planned as Lucy wrote it herself, but while we make no apologies for the swearing (think we'd be doing the same) this forthright, at times funny and at times horribly sad story, is a testament to all the Cancer survivors and a reminder that you always have to take time to smell the flowers.


 "It's not a cyst like we thought actually, there are some lesions I can see on the scan. Hand tight, I just need to take some biopsies" "Shit. I know you can't say till you get the results, but could it be cancer?" "Yes, probably." "F***, sorry for swearing. Christ, how do I tell Phil, how do I tell Phil, how to I tell Phil? His kids! He won't be able to cope, not again..."

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This time last year we were having our very first meetings with Steve France, founder and MD of buying platform Florismart, as he prepared to enter the market with his ground-breaking new concept. Now twelve months on and nearly 200 happy florists down they're embarking on their next huge step as the world's first online flower market comes out of beta and launches its all singing, all dancing Florismart V2.

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TOM-BROWN

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