Flowers are the ultimate short shelf life product and need to be handled with a great amount of care. Each stem in a bouquet of flowers could potentially be from a different country in the world and this is where our challenge begins.
From the moment a stem is cropped, its days are limited and, in order to provide the end consumer with the maximum enjoyment, every hour counts.
Our buying and logistics teams work closely together, and with our suppliers and partners, to ensure that we have the right products, in the right place at the right time. It may sound relatively simple but we also have to ensure that they are the right variety, colour, size, life stage and of course, quality.
It’s then up to our production team to create the beautiful bouquets you see on the supermarket shelves. Due to tight lead times, we usually have to produce in advance of receiving our customers’ orders. However, with a lot of careful planning and a very efficient workforce, we consistently achieve service levels in excess of 99%.
We put our success down to years of experience and a combination of other factors, including:
Our purpose built, state of the art pack-house and head office is located in Newport, East Yorkshire. From here, we produce more than half a million bunches per week. Ideally located for deliveries of raw material from Holland and with the M62 on our doorstep, we can ensure timely deliveries to our customer’s distribution centres all over the UK.
Our site in Spalding is located in the heartland of the Lincolnshire growing community which has allowed us to build excellent relationships with local producers. The majority of our product arrives on the back of a tractor, freshly harvested from the field. Last year, our small team handled more than 20 million bunches of Daffodils, almost a third of the entire UK crop!
Our small Dutch operation based directly next to the large flower auction in Naaldwijk consists of two buyers, two quality controllers and team of loading staff. They are responsible for buying stock and liaising directly with growers but this office also acts as a hub for the consolidation of shipments from Ethiopia, Turkey, Israel and Kenya. They despatch approximately 5 full trailers of stock every day which then make the overnight ferry journey from Rotterdam to Hull.
95% of the flowers we buy from Holland now come direct from growers as this gives us greater control of quality, availability and cost. We work in close partnership with many growers for key products such as Chrysanthemum, Germini, Lilies, Roses and Alstroemeria. We occasionally have specific products or varieties grown for us which is only possible due to our strong and long standing relationships with our suppliers.
Although now a much smaller part of our business, we still use the three largest auctions in Holland (Aalsmeer, Rijnsburg, and Honselerdijk) to source some of our products. These auctions are famous throughout the industry and allow us to access a wide variety of new and interesting products to offer to our customers.
For nine months of the year we work closely with our partners in Turkey to import Carnations and Spray Carnations. We have worked directly with three suppliers for over 15 years and have assisted them in improving their methods, quality and service. We are currently investigating different regions in Turkey with the hope that we can establish year-round supply of high quality products.
Used mainly during the summer months when temperatures in Turkey are a little too hot, we source Carnations and Spray Carnations from our growers in Spain. Having good relationships with our growers means that we can ensure our flowers are pre-bunched to our requirements and packed in water to ensure the finest quality and minimum handling on arrival in the UK.
Working in co-operation with other Dutch Flower Group companies, we now import Alstroemeria and Chrysanthemums by sea container directly from Columbia into the UK. The stems are pre-treated and kept at a stable 1˚C for the entire 2 week journey. This is the start of a growing enterprise which we hope to expand to include other varieties in the near future.
Herburg Roses in Ethiopia have become one of our major partners, currently supplying in excess of 1m Roses per week. In 2014, we helped them become Fairtrade certified which means they now benefit from a guaranteed minimum price per stem plus a 10% Fairtrade premium. They have established a committee of employees to discuss which community projects to invest the premium in and we’ll follow their progress on our Fairtrade page.
A significant proportion of packaging material for our bouquets is manufactured in China. Bulk shipments are sent via sea containers to Holland where they are then held by one of our long standing suppliers until required at one our production sites. Due to typically long order lead times, we usually have to work at least 3 months in advance.
JZ Flowers, Tougher Business Park, Road M, Unit 10, Naas, Co Kildare, W91 R88A, Ireland
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