Victory for France’s industry body Val’Hor as florists and garden centres can stay open during the country’s partial lockdown

Florist shop in Le Mans.

PARIS, France: Reacting to the announcement from France’s PM Jean Castex that florists and garden centres can stay open during the partial lockdown for 16 regions, the chairman of industry body Val’Hor, Mikaël Mercier, said that this is the news the industry has been waiting for.

Acknowledging the government decree 2021-296 from 19 March 2021, which entered into force at midnight last Friday and will last for four weeks, Mercier said: “At this time of year, flowers and plants are the symbols of a new beginnings and rebirth, of new life and well-being. I am delighted that the government has come to realise that by allowing us to do our job, it has equally allowed the French citizens to reconnect with nature which can help de-stress in this period of crisis.”

Castex’s decision to keep florist shop and garden centres open despite the new regional lockdown for 16 regions (including the Paris area) may be well considered a victory for the ten trade unions from the ornamental sector that regroup umbrella organisation Val’Hor. It is the first time that flowers and plants have the long-sought ‘essential status’. Their inputs and lobbying have been vital in why garden centres and florists have been allowed to continue their business.

Over the past few months, Val’Hor has been instrumental in engaging with the French government on the particulars of lockdowns and sees ongoing horticultural business as a positive economic move that gardeners and industry professionals applaud. Mercier said: “Val’Hor feels values and purpose of its organisation have been incredibly reinforced. The green light for the green sector is a recognition for all plant professions: growers, florists, garden centres, seed companies, wholesalers, landscaping firms, garden designers and contractors. But it is also about the huge amount of trust the government has put in the sector that ensured that all safety measures are in place to do business.”

With the Spring peak season underway, authorising the sales of plants and flowers, is a message of hope that the Government wishes to convey to the public. And Val’Hor is confident that the 175,000 industry professionals will meet an eager buying audience, referencing the findings of its most recent consumer survey carried out by Opinionway.

Key findings of the survey include:

– seven out of ten French people consider flowers and plants important in terms of personal quality of life. Moreover, seven out of ten think that flowers, plants and gardening contribute to improved social interactions and community cohesion.

– Generally speaking, the global health crisis has maintained or reinforced the importance of gardening in France and home decorating with flowers and plants.

– Three-quarters of French people have bought flowers and plants over the past year, despite the many constraints that have hampered these purchases.

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