FleuraMetz has a rich and adventurous history going back over fifty years. Here is a brief summary of that history. We can roughly divide our history into three phases: pioneering, building and merger.
The basis for FleuraMetz was laid by a few remarkable pioneers in the Dutch flower trade.
At the end of the 1960s, Ton Zonneveld and the brothers Jan and Co Berkhout started Berkhout-Zonneveld flower company at Beverwijk auction, exporting to wholesalers in Bremen and Hamburg. In the mid-seventies, the rapidly expanding company, which was now called Fleura, relocated to Aalsmeer. In 1978, under the management of Hein Kalter in Hannover, the first Cash & Carry opened under the name H.B.I. (Holland Blumen Import). Interestingly, this was in fact an acquisition of one of Fleura’s wholesale customers. who was unable to fulfil its obligations. Under the management of Co, who looked after the Dutch company Fleura, and Hein, who was leading H.B.I. the turnover and numbers of H.B.I. facilities in Germany grew steadily.
At the end of the 1970s, Gerard Metz started delivering cut flowers to florists in Antwerp from his base in the former Westland Flower Auction (the Netherlands). In the mid-eighties, trade in Antwerp started to stagnate, so he had his eyes set on Paris where he supplied cut flowers and pot plants directly to the florist, bypassing the local wholesaler. The company started to expand and by the end of the 1980s, Gerard Metz B.V. had approximately 250 customers, making him one of the larger operators in the Parisian region.
In the 1990s and early years of this century, growth accelerated under the management of a new generation of entrepreneurs.
During the early nineties, Frank Koenen took over from Gerard as the new owner. The delivery area was expanded to include all of France and new markets were added through own initiatives or business acquisitions. Countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom were consistently served by the Metz Group via the ‘Direct Sales’ concept, resulting in continuous growth. This growth accelerated following the launch of the Internet at the turn of the century and the combination of Metz’ first successful online ordering system ‘Iris’ with direct purchasing from partner growers. In 2008 the Metz Group delivered to approximately 4000 regular customers in France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and Ireland. At this point, Metz was the market leader in the Direct concept.
With the arrival of Robert Kalter as the new owner at the end of the 1990s, the Fleura/H.B.I. combination was also at the brink of a period of long-term growth. The Cash & Carry concept was rolled out throughout Germany, making Fleura/H.B.I. market leaders in this country. Another successful sales concept was also intensively promoted: Truck Sales, which involved a driver/salesman visiting shops and selling from the truck. The acquisition of Cash & Carry companies in the Netherlands (Jules Sleutjes) and Switzerland (Hottinger) resulted in a leading market position. Fleura was equally successful in Austria on its own. Besides trading in flowers through the two florist concepts, Fleura continued to focus on delivery to flower wholesalers in Europe. This division remained important throughout the years. In 2008, Fleura was the market leader in both the Cash & Carry and the Truck Sales concept.
On the 3rd of July 2009, Fleura and Metz merged with the intention to strengthen the market position of florists in Europa and North America. The combination FleuraMetz soon developed from trading company to a wide network connecting thousands of growers and florist efficiently and innovatively.
In 2007, Fleura and Metz launched the purchasing combination MFI (Metz Fleura International). The goal was to maximise economies of scale on import activities. The boards of Fleura and Metz got on very well from the start and soon achieved their first joint import successes. The corresponding future perspectives, corporate culture and complementarity in active markets and sales concepts were enough for both parties to sit around the table. The result was a merger between Fleura and Metz on the 3rd of July 2009, with Frank chairing the Executive Board and Robert heading the Supervisory Committee.
For the merged company FleuraMetz, it had been clear from the start that optimising economies of scale in sourcing, information technology, finance, human resources, logistics and marketing is essential to strengthen the position of the floral industry. The road to the required, integrated organisation was an adventure on its own. It took longer than expected and was at times bumpy to say the least.
Although FleuraMetz will never be finished, the company has developed into a network, which connects over 40.000 florists and wholesalers to thousands of growers/manufacturers of flowers, plants and deco in the meantime. An unique network with a natural drive for efficiency and innovation but also the ambition to maintain a continuous exchange of information between florists and producers.