As long as Royal FloraHolland’s physical plant clocks in Aalsmeer and Naaldwijk function and are profitable, they’ll remain an integral part of the marketplace. That’s what the auction agreed with the action group ‘Behoud de Plantenklok’ (Keep the Plant Clock).
By Arie-Frans Middelburg
The action group is happy with this outcome of the meeting they had with Royal FloraHolland’s directors and management on the 24th of October. “The meeting was much more positive than we anticipated”, says Rémi van Adrichem of RM Plants. He represented ‘Behoud de Plantenklok’ together with Martin Hoogenboom (Vireo Plant), Jan de Boer (Barendsen), Vincent Groenewegen (Agora Group) and pot plant grower Jos Kester. Steven Schilfgaarde, Servaas van der Ven and Aad van den Enden acted on behalf of FloraHolland.
Van Adrichem: “What was planned for the 4th of October, is never going to happen. The conditions that were set out for Eelde, will now also apply to Naaldwijk and Aalsmeer. It was clearly stated that, as long as the physical plant clocks in Naaldwijk and Aalsmeer function and don’t make a loss, they will stay in place. It was also made clear that FloraHolland is the number one marketplace for large and small growers and a wide range of different customers. That was like music to our ears.”
FloraHolland originally wanted to introduce Image Auctioning for plants in one go, on the 4th of October. This plan was already adjusted before the extraordinary AGM took place on the 21st of September, after a large group of growers and buyers had expressed their concerns. The group, united in the action group ‘Behoud de Plantenklok’, requested an extraordinary AGM to discuss Image Auctioning of plants. The outcome was that Image Auctioning of plants would be implemented in phases. But it would still be a fact if Today for Tomorrow auctioning system was introduced or if the gallery seats remained unoccupied.
It now seems like FloraHolland has made further concessions towards ‘Behoud de Plantenklok’. Although digital developments are progressing rapidly, Van Adrichem has noticed a change in FloraHolland’s policy regarding the physical clock. At the end of the day, the market determines whether there’s a place for the physical clock. “FloraHolland has clearly indicated that the market will determine their course of action and that FloraHolland cannot dictate the market.”
It was also agreed during the meeting that policies regarding the development of remote buying, the programme ‘Versterken Plantenklok’ (Strengthening the Plant Clock), the development of apps for growers and buyers, the plans regarding the Today for Tomorrow auctioning and the new e-commerce platform Floriday, will be kept separate from the physical auctioning of plants.
It is possible though, that some of these developments will erode the physical clock eventually. Van Adrichem: “I strongly believe in the role of the physical clock, for example as a shop window. Whether the physical clock is going to be around in twenty years time? I haven’t got a crystal ball. It could well be that the physical clock is going to be eroded. Growers have made a very strong case for the clock, with the support of exporters. Now it’s the exporters’ turn.”
The auction is currently experimenting with the Today for Tomorrow auctioning system. The question is whether the new system will replace physical auctioning altogether. Van Adrichem doesn’t rule out the existence of Today for Tomorrow and the physical clocks at the same time.
‘Behoud de Plantenklok’ is still waiting to get an overview of the costs of the clock.
Royal FloraHolland also said that the meeting was very positive and they confirmed the agreements that were made. Spokesman Michel van Schie: “With the addition that we’re working hard, together with the focus group ‘Verbeteren Plantenklok’ (Improving the Plant Clock), on improving the product images and the photo requirements, but this is independent of the physical auctioning of plants.”
The meeting on the 24th of October was a follow-up from the extraordinary AGM of 21 September, which focused entirely on Image Auctioning of plants. “Phased implementation and more of a voice in the developments regarding Image Auctioning was the main outcome of that AGM and that was seen through properly”, according to the action group.