Smile Invest obtains minority stake in Microflor

LOCHRISTIE, Belgium: Benelux Private Equity firm Smile Invest obtains a substantial minority stake in Microflor alongside the family Floré, who remains the majority shareholder.

Microflor is active in the breeding and propagation of tropical plants with a focus on Phalaenopsis orchids. Over the past 30 years, Microflor has grown from a small family-owned company into a global top 3 player in the breeding and propagation of orchids.

The company has unique expertise in in-vitro propagation and breeding technologies that resulted in an extensive proprietary plant genetics portfolio of over 160 commercially available varieties and over 1,000 varieties under development. Microflor is headquartered in Lochristi, Belgium, and operates state-of-the-art labs and production facilities in Belgium and Slovakia from which it delivers young plants across Europe and the Americas.

During recent years, Microflor has heavily invested in R&D techniques, infrastructure and people, in order to prepare the company for further growth. In addition, Microflor has put a lot of effort in streamlining its operations. The management of the company is convinced it now has the right structure and people in place to realize its ambitious strategy and start a next growth phase.

The horticulture market is changing considerably driven by trends such as higher technology standards, economies of scale triggering consolidation, shift to mass-retail sales channels, and increasing demand from emerging markets. These trends, which require further professionalisation of the sector, are especially visible in the European orchid market, where a maturing market has resulted in overcapacity. Microflor has developed a growth strategy to benefit from the changing market environment.

Various options were studied on how to best realise this growth strategy. After careful consideration, it was decided that attracting a strong partner that can accelerate the realisation of Microflor’s strategy was the preferred option.

In a changing market, Microflor was brought into the luxury position to choose between a number of partners with the right vision and cultural fit. Thomas Roelens, Co-Head of M&A of Oaklins’ team in Belgium comments, “We were able to position Microflor as an attractive investment opportunity in a changing market, which triggered strong interest from both strategic and financial parties. This brought our client into the luxury position that they could carefully choose between a well-selected number of partners with the right vision and cultural fit.”

Febe Floré, Managing Director of Microflor adds: “After exploring various scenarios together with our advisor Oaklins, Smile Invest was selected as the preferred partner and new minority shareholder in Microflor. Based on their entrepreneurial spirit, a focus on long term value creation, an experienced team and a good fit with Microflor’s family values, Smile Invest is a perfect match for Microflor to realize our goals. With Smile Invest, Microflor now has the experience on board to actively pursue acquisition opportunities and leverage its expertise in in-vitro propagation and breeding technology.”

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