How does it work?
Of the 6,700 businesses, around 80% of these belong to a relay organisation such as InterFlora, Teleflower or Flowergram. The benefit of belonging to such an organisation is that by providing support in marketing and sales, and product and design, and as a result of their international links, they allow the business to compete with multi-national firms, and respond to a changing market. (For example, approximately 80% of Dutch-imported flowers in the UK now go to supermarkets.)
A relay organisation allows a person in one part of the country to ‘send’ flowers to a person in another part of the country by using a network of florists. The operation is relatively straightforward.
The customer places an order with an authorised sending florist, the order is then sent to the scheme’s head office who then relay it to a florist in the area that the customer wishes the flowers to go to. Orders can be picked up either by phone, fax or email from fellow members around the UK or overseas as well as orders from people visiting the shop direct.
So that both parties are paid both the sending florist and the executing florist hold an account with the relay organisation. The sending florist typically retains 20% of the order and sends the balance to the relay organisation, while the executing florist receives the balance of the amount for the order, which is around 80%. Both are usually settled on a monthly basis.
Membership of the scheme may also involve:
· an exclusivity agreement stating that the florist can't belong to another scheme
· a joining fee and/or annual subscription fee and interest on overdue accounts as well as other terms and conditions of membership.
The remaining florists are also made up of small shops as well as contract florists but remain independent from relay organisations. These outlets and companies either sell directly to passing trade or have contracts to cater for events, functions and parties or other businesses, for example. Of course as a relay organisation you can also arrange contract work.
There is always competition, and the floristry industry is no exception. Andrea Caldecourt of the Flowers and Plants Association, set up in 1984 to promote sales of all commercially grown cut flowers and indoor plants to UK consumers, says: “About the same number of florists have existed each year over the past five years but each year about the same number go out of business as decide to set up in business. You are never going to get wildly rich as a florist, but then that’s not why people go into the industry.”
Yet specialising and adding the personal touch maybe the key to success. Caldecourt says: “If there wasn’t competition then it wouldn’t be a good business to go into. There are many more places selling flowers and indoor plants now, however very few of them offer bespoke arrangements to order, which is where many successful florists specialise.”