But­ters do Busi­ness with British Blooms

lead-big-business-for-british-flowers-butters-florist-trade-The UK flower grow­ing indus­try may be still con­sid­er­ing the best tac­tics for an assault on the mar­ket but one com­pany is even now lead­ing that charge.

The But­ters Group already pro­vides a series of prod­ucts for Wait­rose and proudly boasts that 75% of the flow­ers are UK grown.

But the Spalding-​based com­pany isn’t pre­pared to draw the bat­tle line there – and have plans to extend the num­ber and vari­ety of UK grown flow­ers it supplies.

But­ters Flow­ers, a divi­sion of the com­pany, is cur­rently work­ing with a grower in Boston to pro­duce locally grown tanace­tum parthe­nium (a vari­ety of chrysan­the­mum) to use in bou­quets for Wait­rose – a bloom which is nor­mally imported from Holland.

Next year they hope to extend tri­als to extend the UK grow­ing sea­son for aga­pan­thus so UK flow­ers can be used for a longer period of the year rather than rely­ing on imports from Colum­bia or Kenya.

Both projects are being spear­headed by But­ters tech­ni­cal man­ager Tracey Thomas – who has also been run­ning tri­als for the Cut Flower Cen­tre to help prod­uct development.

2-big-business-for-british-flowers-butters-florist-trade-And it is this joint work­ing that But­ters believes lies at the heart of the solu­tion for rein­vig­o­rat­ing the UK grow­ing sector.

Jo Pear­son, the group’s busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ager, is pas­sion­ate about UK flow­ers but under­stands grow­ers can­not invest in their oper­a­tions until they get com­mit­ment from buyers.

The solu­tion lies in retail­ers giv­ing long-​term com­mit­ments to sell­ing UK flow­ers because with­out that grow­ers can­not invest in their crops or their busi­ness,” she said.

At But­ters we are pas­sion­ate about get­ting more prod­ucts from UK sources on the shelves. Any­thing we can do to advance the UK grow­ing sec­tor we will. We want to work with grow­ers to cre­ate new and alter­na­tive prod­ucts and improve the quality.

“The sup­port from Wait­rose has been instru­men­tal in help­ing us to do that. They are com­mit­ted to sell­ing UK flow­ers and that has helped enormously.”

And the com­pany – which pack­ages and dis­trib­utes nearly 3,500 bou­quets a day from its cen­tre in Lin­colnshire – is hope­ful that com­mit­ment to British blooms can extend to other customers.

The prod­ucts it dis­trib­utes on behalf of Inter­flora, Fly­ing Flow­ers and Moon Pig still top many com­peti­tors for the amount of UK sourced flow­ers – top­ping 20% on aver­age – but the com­pany accepts there is room for improvement.

How­ever it may be con­sumers, rather than sup­pli­ers, who hold the key. To win that bat­tle the cur­rent cam­paign to encour­age peo­ple to buy British – with the inclu­sion of the Union Jack on the labels of UK grown flow­ers – has made some gains.

Jo believes the cam­paign needs to increase its bom­bard­ment on the pub­lic con­scious­ness to have any chance of victory.

She points to the pos­i­tive work done within the UK food indus­try to raise the pro­file of indi­vid­ual sup­pli­ers, farm­ers and pro­duc­ers as an exam­ple of what can be achieved.

Inter­flora and Wait­rose have already made strides in this direc­tion, she says, but more can be done by the indus­try as a whole.

“The con­cept of the Union Jack labelling is right but the exe­cu­tion needs to be stronger. The more we can do to pro­mote the flag the bet­ter. We want to be wav­ing it as proudly and as vis­i­bly as pos­si­ble,” she said.

But, how­ever the cam­paign pro­gresses, But­ters is deter­mined to be a staunch ally for UK growers.