During Plantion’s General Meeting of Members on 9 June last, Cooperative Chair René Willemsen and Managing Director André van Kruijssen reviewed an extraordinary 2020, a year during which flowers and plants proved to be a rock-solid product and annual turnover was almost 4 percent higher than 2019. Those present in the room and live stream viewers were subsequently taken through the innovations – starting with an upgrade of the auction room – that Plantion will be implementing in the next few years.
Plantion recorded a healthy turnover increase of 3.7 percent for 2020. However, behind this seemingly ‘normal’ percentage lies the story of an extraordinary year that had it all: a lockdown, coronavirus measures, employees working from home, partial shop closures, decisive and flexible responses as well as the rapid recovery of trade. Once again, flowers and plants turned out to be an important source of comfort in difficult times: as in the previous global crisis, therefore, the ornamental horticultural sector has held up well.
The pandemic resulted in the share of digital purchasing through Auction rising sharply, with an extreme peak in March and one in December, when this share was as high as 30 percent. This effect has continued in the first five months of 2021, partly thanks to the delivery service that more and more customers are making use of.
Plantion achieved its turnover increase in 2020 thanks to pricing, with similar quantities as in previous years. However, it did require a great deal of effort to supply enough volume to the marketplace, and, partly as a result of this, profits in 2020 were lower (121 thousand euros) than in 2019 (880 thousand euros).
You can check out the spruced-up online version of the annual report with the theme ‘Vitamine G, de kracht van bloemen en planten in een crisis’ (Vitamin G, the power of flowers and plants in a crisis) by clicking on this link. You can also find a PDF of the annual accounts on the Plantion website.
State of play for 2021
The first five months of 2021 also show a substantial rise in turnover (11 percent). Indeed, turnover from digital sales has doubled, mainly thanks to a strong increase in Auction Presales. Here too, the picture is somewhat distorted, with this increase in turnover the result of pricing, and Plantion is struggling to obtain sufficient quantities of product for Auction, brokerage, the Green Centre and the digital marketplace. To change this, members and guest members are being encouraged to supply more, especially for Auction and Auction presales. That’s why Plantion is organising a number of informal regional meetings this year for suppliers in order to increase the involvement of this group in the marketplace, with the first meeting to be held on 24 June for suppliers in the Arnhem-Nijmegen region.
Besides involvement, innovation is also a priority in 2021. For example, Plantion is investing in the renovation of its auction room. This summer, we will be installing cameras so that, thanks to a live stream, buyers that purchase remotely actually see trolleys on display in their Remote Buying application. In September, the six beamer screens in the clock face will also be replaced by a single state-of-the-art LED screen. All this should contribute to a better experience in the auction room and more remote Auction buyers.
Another priority in 2021 is supporting the customer in his or her local marketing. We can do this by providing content, thematic flower cards and other promotional materials, for example.
Policy plan 2022-2025
Later this year, Plantion will be presenting its policy plan for the period 2022-2025, with the central focus of the plan being ‘delivering added value and making things easier for suppliers and customers’. Plantion is working towards a 24/7 service with better (real-time) reporting, demand-driven expansion of services and annual growth of 10 percent. To make this possible, we are investing in improved customer facilities, mechanisation of distribution, added value in logistics, informative apps and acquisition.