Early this year. Uwe Bedenbecker and Marc Schax were named CEOs of Veiling Rhein-Maas, succeeding Ruud Knorr. Bedenbecker will be in charge of clock and commercial activities, Schax of logistics and financial activities. FloraCulture International met both at IPM Essen.
Germany is by far Europe’s most important floral market which has a very strong relationship with the Dutch. Why?
“Because both countries get along well culturally, having long trade relations, including flowers and plants. Speaking of Veiling Rhein-Maas, we try to create a company culture that combines the best of the two countries.”
People say Germany is a mature market but still young florists find new niches. What’s your opinion on that?
“The German market has never stopped growing. A 2% plus increase in 2016 with similar expectations in 2017 doesn’t look like a mature standstill. Veiling Rhein-Maas contributed to new developments during Rhein-Maas Next, a presentation for young FDF-florists of new sales concepts and trends. We want the growth to continue for florists.”
The Dutch say that quality-wise they’re unrivalled . Are they?
“At Veiling Rhein-Maas flowers and plants aren’t valuated on country of origin, but on quality. Good products can come from anywhere. As an auction house, we give particular attention to special qualities, auctioning them as ‘Premium Quality’. Half of this stock is Dutch, the other half German.
As a German-Dutch auction, ‘local for local’ is no issue for us. Clients buy the flowers they want. Some will pay attention to the origin of their products, others won’t.”
How does Veiling Rhein-Maas deal with sustainability and fair trade?
“Sustainability is a big trend in Germany and so is fair trade. Early this year we started auctioning Fairtrade Roses after announcing this on our Clients- and Suppliers Day where the central theme was sustainability.”
German discounters have strengthened their position in the market. How does that influence clock sales at Veiling Rhein-Maas?
“Since we started Veiling Rhein-Maas in 2010, clock sales have risen significantly. Traditional channels (florist, market, garden centre, etc.) still account for 55% of our turnover. We support these channels by showing product presentations by Rhein-Maas Next for young florists and by publishing a special magazine and by publishing a special magazine for our customers.”
Dutch exporters tend to neglect Veiling Rhein-Maas’ supplies. How come?
Although we are just across the border, it’s doing business in another country, which means doing business in a different judicial and fiscal system. Nevertheless, numerous Dutch buyers and growers find their way to our auction. We are present at fairs like IPM to meet new clients one-on-one.”
Royal FloraHolland will start its new auctioning later this year. What are your plans?
“When we asked them about it last year, the vast majority of our clients said they wanted to stick to the auction clock. That’s why we’ll keep developing it in addition to working at long Remote Buying system, Clock services and Clock Pre Sales. Royal FloraHolland will change its system but the basis will remain a form of auctioning. Since we have a close relationship with colleagues in Holland, we will follow what they do.”