Arnold Koek, an expert on Russia, explains that the Russians are struggling. The man on the street is starting to suffer from the crisis. Salaries are not being paid and everyone has less money to spend,’ P&B Recently merged with OZ Export, and the declining trade with Russia was one of the reasons for this merger.
According to Mr Koek, the position of the Netherlands in the Russian market will decline. ‘Because of the crisis, there is an increase in local production, and the Russians are also buying land in Kenya to start producing flowers over there. Everything has to be done more cheaply.’
P&B always had a strong position in the Russian market. Mr Koek: ‘We got into the top three within no time. That’s something I’m rather proud of. The drawback is that you can fall further when things start running less smoothly in a particular country.’
The decline in trade in flowers and plants to Russia had a significant impact on P&B. The company, part of the Dutch Flower Group (DFG), will continue trading as OZ Export. This news was announced three weeks ago. Mr Koek: ‘It’s no secret that we have been through difficult times in the past few years. There is a shakeout going on in the wholesale branch. Customers go bankrupt, the market gets smaller, and the competition is more fierce than it was. On top of that, we had to deal with the Russian and Ukrainian problems. To put it briefly: things were not going well. We are still making money, but we want to take decisive action on time.’
The first discussions within DFG about Premier & Blenheim’s future started six months ago. ‘In general, OZ Export, P&B, and Holex do much the same within the Dutch Flower Group. If each company specialises, we can serve our customers better, and work much more efficiently, thus avoiding non-voluntary redundancies, which was crucial for us,’ Mr Koek explained.
Premier & Blenheim will specialise in international clients that buy from a distance on the auctionclock while OZ Export will specialise in the packaging of flowers. Holex will continue to organise air transport. ‘By merging the overheads, we will be able to achieve an enormous cost reduction. Costs will be restricted to a minimum,’ Mr Koek concluded.