Florist Holland and HilverdaKooij are merging. It is a true merger of two sister companies. “I expect that we’ll be a better and more efficient company for our partners in the future. For producers, exporters, as well as retailers.”, says one of the directors Melchior Moen.
By Arie-Frans Middelburg
Why are Florist Holland and HilverdaKooij merging?
”It’s quite simple, really. There have been some big changes in the plant and flower industry during the past couple of years. It used to be that growers produced good products and sold them through the auction. In the Netherlands at least. In other countries, there has always been more direct trade. And that’s more and more true for the Netherlands too nowadays. Traders no longer go through the auction like they did 15 years ago. It’s all about collaboration and scale increase these days. Exporters and retailers are looking for more solid partners. By combining the assortments of Florist Holland and HilverdaKooij, we think that producers and exporters can help us get into the retail segment. This merger makes us a more interesting partner for these parties to negotiate with.”
Is large scale a requirement in the breeding industry these days?
”Yes, it is. The breeding industry does require large scale. The cost of the latest breeding techniques needed to realise innovative crops, requires large scale. Both companies have the ambition to grow. So, if you can share, why wouldn’t you? We were already working on the latest breeding techniques and we’ll continue with this in the future. By combining the companies, we can make our breeding activities more efficient and really make some progress in this field.”
How long have you been planning the merger for?
”The process already started a while ago. Florist Holland was looking for a product in addition to their gerberas a few years ago. That wasn’t so easy, as the new product had to fit in with the existing assortment. HilverdaKooij is a sister company. Both companies belong to Royal Hilverda Group. The idea of a merger was born in conversations with shareholders. It took a while for the idea to mature. Hilverda Group used to prefer an autonomous business strategy. Companies had to be able to function independently. As a result, both companies are healthy and strong. The combination of Florist Holland and HilverdaKooij should result in 1 + 1 = 3+.”
Is this a true merger or an acquisition?
”It’s a true merger. The two sister companies are joined on an equal basis.”
Florist recently purchased a 4-ha site, is that because of the merger?
”No, it isn’t. We had the opportunity to buy that 4-ha site from our neighbours. Everybody knows that neighbour’s land rarely comes up for sale. So, we immediately grabbed the opportunity. Florist already had the ambition to grow. That’s one of the great things, both HilverdaKooij and Florist Holland had the ambition and desire to innovate. We both feel that sustainability and efficiency are very important. That’s why we’re going to set up an innovation centre. Our aim is to have an outline ready by the first quarter of 2019. It should be finished by the middle of 2020. The innovation centre won’t be all about breeding. It will also focus on automation and mechanisation projects, such as robotization, in the broadest sense of the word.”
Is the next step a reorganisation?
”A reorganisation isn’t on the cards right now. But the merger will lead to double staff in some departments. We’ll be working together with the employees to implement the 1.5-year merger process, which will result in a great state-of-the-art company in 2020. Putting it on the map will be a joint effort by the employees of the new company. Our aim is to be and remain an efficient company, which offers employees the opportunity to develop within the business.”
Are you big enough now?
”Absolutely. Hilverda Group has been around for more than a century. Florist Holland and HilverdaKooij are strong and healthy companies, we’re both doing well. Both companies have more than 40 years experience in plant and flower breeding and propagation. I expect that we’ll be a better and more efficient company for our partners in the future. For producers, exporters, as well as retailers.”
Would a merger with Dümmen Orange be an option in the future?
”No, not at all. Nothing beats establishing a strong, future-proof business of your own. That’s the goal within our company and that’s what energises us.”
What’s the name of the new company?
”I’m afraid I can’t answer that yet. We’ll definitely communicate the new name before the end of the month. What I can tell you though, is that you’ll be able to recognise both companies in the new name. We’re both known for our innovation, ambition and reliability, and that’s how we want to be seen in the future too.”