In the autumn period of 2016, Royal FloraHolland organised a study trip to the UK. Several growers visited Milton Keynes and St Albans under the guidance of market specialist Josephine Klapwijk. The programme included a tour of several garden centres, DIY stores and supermarket chains.
“There is little sign of the approaching Brexit in the UK, according to our consumer figures, British consumers still buy just as many flowers and plants as before that fateful day in June”. Says Josephine. In the shops, we do not see much restraint in their purchasing behaviour. Although the margins are subject to considerable pressure due to the fluctuating British pound, only observant consumers note that there may be one less stem in a bunch of flowers for the same price.
The flower and plant display suffers around this time of year. The shop area normally devoted to flowers and plants has to largely make way for chocolate, candy (Halloween) and other festive articles (Christmas) that appear in the shops earlier and earlier. The first poinsettias have already been spotted in the British supermarket chains, but also bouquets with festive glitter are catching the consumer’s eye. And this is a period when we just experienced a very warm late summer. Consumers appear to feel that the beginning of October is too early for this change.
In terms of quality, the assortment and presentation at Marks&Spencer looked the best. A big surprise was provided by the supermarket chain Tesco. Their assortment had been very poor in the past few years and the quality was disappointing, but now we saw clearly that decisions had been taken. The plant display in particular definitely profited; it was attractive again.
The flower and plant display of the competitor Morrisons underwent a radical make-over two years ago. The continuation of the new line does not appear to have been successful in every branch. We old products and empty displays in the morning at the Milton Keynes branch. The branch in St Albans, on the other hand, had fresh products and a well-filled display. A positive element of the flower display at Morrisons was the special labels they applied like ‘Bouquet of the Week’, ‘In Season’ or ‘Signature Hand-Tied Bouquet’, something that the British consumer responds to.
The flower and plant presentations at Sainsbury’s and Waitrose seem to have hardly changed, except for the packaging (we saw kraft paper, for example). The biggest disappointment was the supermarket chain Asda: many empty spaces, untidy and hardly inspiring plant display.
In terms of products, we saw many gerbera, alstroemeria, sunflowers, santini and gladioli (British) this autumn along with the usual roses, chrysanthemums and lilies. One striking aspect at Tesco is that we saw a lot of cut flowers that we would normally expect to see in a florist shop, such as luxurious avalanche roses, cut hortensia and cut callas. Concerning plants, we noted the following products in the supermarket assortment: orchids, pot roses, bromelia, Kalanchoë, pot chrysanthemum, Spathiphyllum and Aechmea.