Marco van Zijverden: ‘This crisis is the worst thing ever’

“The worst thing ever. I hope I’ll never have to go through anything like this again”, says Marco van Zijverden, CEO Dutch Flower Group. They’ve been hit hard by the coronavirus. “We’re well funded, so we won’t go under too quickly. But there’s no avoiding the fact that we’ll have to work with fewer parties in the future.”

It hasn’t been that long since we spoke to each other about his successor and the loss of their large client Tesco UK. A few months later, Dutch Flower Group is facing very different challenges. The coronavirus crisis is affecting this company too. Time for another interview. Remotely this time.

It’s been a few weeks since we last spoke. How are things now?

“Obviously, the coronavirus has an enormous impact on us, too. Our turnover has gone down dramatically, although it seems to differ from one company to the next. The ones that supply to importing wholesalers and florists have seen their turnover drop by around 80%.”

What about suppliers to supermarket chains?

“They’re also far from the normal levels, but they’re a little bit better off. The turnover loss in this segment lies around 50%. Also huge, but at least our retail companies are still up and running to some extent. It feels so strange. I still go to Aalsmeer a lot, but otherwise, it’s all horribly empty and quiet here.”

How would you describe this crisis?

“The worst thing ever. I hope I’ll never have to go through anything like this again. DFG has experienced some crises before of course, but this is fundamentally different. During a financial crisis, we still continue to operate somehow. There might be a lot of pressure on the margins, you need to cut costs quickly, but at least there are still plants and flowers leaving the premisses. Whereas now, many countries are in lockdown and many of our customers in various parts of the world are closed. The supermarkets in Switzerland for example, aren’t selling any plants and flowers until the end of April.”

Click here to read the full interview in Floribusiness magazine.

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