Nini Flowers from Kenya was rewarded with the Dutch Flower Group Award last week. Owner Billy Coulson is very proud and feels honoured. ”We didn’t think we would win. We’ve got a strong relationship with DFG, but we didn’t realise we were already in that league. I’m very proud of our team.”
What does the DFG Award mean to you?
”It’s a very prestigious award. We really appreciate our relationship with DFG. We’ve been their customer for six years now. Our connection goes back to 2011, when DFG and Mavuno entered into a strategic alliance. The award is the result of six years of collaborating. We were really surprised, but very proud. We didn’t think we would win. We’ve got a strong relationship with DFG, but we didn’t realise we were already in that league, if you know what I mean. I’m very proud of our team, too.”
DFG consists of a large group of companies. Which of those are you doing business with?
”Our focus is on retail and we sell through DFG to Bloom, Fresh From Source (FFS) and Intergreen. The three of them together function as one large customer for us. We produce 2 million stems per week on two different farms, Nini and Lamorna. A total of 1,000 people work on the farms. The two locations are adjacent to each other, so they’re pretty much one and the same. That makes it easier to achieve the same quality for our brand, Nini, on both farms. We sell about 60% of our produce to DFG. The rest goes to a number of different customers, including The Flower Hub and Rosalink. No, not all of our flowers are shipped to Holland. The flowers for Tesco, sold through Intergreen, are sent straight to the United Kingdom.”
Nothing is sold through the auction?
”No, no auction. All 2 million stems go to the retail sector. We’re entirely focused on retail. There aren’t too many companies in Kenya that do the same. Most farms have a mix of customers. We maintain the same, fixed prices all year round – that’s our vision. It works for us. It brings a great level of certainty. Actually, we have plans to expand from 44 ha to 54 ha next year, which means we’ll be able to produce an additional half a million stems each week. We’re currently facing a constant shortage of flowers.”
Sounds like you’re happy with the way things are going?
”Yes, we’re definitely very happy about our sales. Nini Flowers and DFG are getting stronger and more professional all the time. The logistics are getting more efficient and communication with customers is becoming more and more professional. DFG is working hard on these aspects. They are very open and so are we. I like open relationships with customers.”
Back to the award. What are you going to do with it?
”I’m in England at the moment, where I’m meeting a few customers. But when I get back to Kenya, I’m definitely going to do something on our website and share it via other communication channels. I have noticed that many of our other customers have a lot of respect for DFG. It’s the largest flower trading company in the world. Everyone respects them. So, our other customers appreciate them too.”
Did you exhibit at Trade Fair or IFTF?
”No, we never exhibit at any trade shows. We sell most of our produce through DFG, exhibiting at trade shows doesn’t add any value to that. British supermarket purchasing managers don’t visit the fairs, as they mostly target the wholesalers. Our sales are based on long term relationships with customers. I did visit both shows though, and was very impressed with the scale, the professionality and the variety of the products. All signs of a healthy industry.”