KONTICH, Belgium: Next year Agora Group will open a brand new flagship store in Aalsmeer – the Netherlands. For florists and garden retailers it will offer true inspiration; for growers this new showcase represents an opportunity for brand building. Meet the wholesaler 2.0!
Declining profits and structural changes in the industry are driving many floral wholesalers to reassess the way they procure and distribute their goods. It’s also increasingly more important to provide unique value added services. With this in mind, Agora kicked off construction last January of a new, fully owned 10,000 m2 centralised purchasing and distribution hub for cut flowers.
Additionally, plans are underway with Dobbe Flowers to jointly procure a 2500 m2 cut flower cash and carry floor in Waterdrinker’s future Green Trade Center. Both projects are slated to be finished by January 2018.
FCI talked to Ellen Van Turnhout and her brother, Nick, the family team responsible for Agora Group’s new strategy. It turns out they fully understand that e-commerce is the new normal. However, they refuse to believe that physical cash and carry stores are on their way out. “We don’t want our florists to feel like they’re in the fishbowl of digital selling. The new store will be an excellent venue for inspiration, engagement and learning,” Ellen explained.
Tapping into export markets
The Van Turnhouts are demonstrating vision and perseverance by investing in a one-stop shop for flowers despite the fact that in Western Europe the number of florists continues to decline. The much-needed concentration of purchasing power and the new distribution hub in Aalsmeer will allow them to tap into export markets.
Agora also wants to engage with supplier growers in Europe. Ellen: “The goal is to create a memorable supplier showcase. Growers should associate our name with one of the best platforms to launch their products and build their brands.”
Rethinking the supply chain
A floral wholesaler 2.0 needs to continually update its market knowledge. Nick enthusiastically acknowledges their vision behind the new proposition: “The internet forces us to rethink our supply chain. Our florists and garden retailers tell us that customers’ buying habits have never been more diverse. They find it increasingly difficult to understand and manage customer’s expectations. We are dedicated to making market information both straightforward and shareable.”