Forecourt flowers have long been the butt of many a joke, but it would seem things are changing, as one forecourt retailer in Essex sold an astonishing £18,500-worth of plants and flowers across Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day this year.
Janu Patel, who owns the Jet New North Road site in Ilford, Essex, accomplished this despite having a large Tesco, Co-op, Lidl and even a florist nearby.
I’m a regular purchaser of flowers; I typically buy a bunch a week as I like to have them indoors. And Mr West tends to buy me them for me only on special occasions I suppose I should be grateful for that.
However, I’d never buy flowers from my local forecourt as they tend to look like the ones that have been the butt of all those jokes. My favourite flowers come from M&S of course but I do buy them from Sainsbury’s regularly too. You see, where I live, the forecourt shops don’t really pass muster and you’d be hard pushed to find any decent fresh food in them, let alone quality flowers. Flowers, like fruit and veg, require effort. For instance, they need checking regularly to ensure they have enough water and they need to be kept out of draughts. There’s nothing worse than seeing a display that includes flowers that are long past their ’sell-by’ date. But it can take time to build up your business.
Apparently when Janu took over the freehold on the Jet site more than 15 years ago, the shop was selling around £12-worth of flowers each week. But he saw an opportunity to boost sales and attract new customers by increasing the range. With things like this, it’s always a case of ’speculate to accumulate’, so in the first few months, he displayed £400-500 worth of bouquets each week but was losing money. However, he kept at it and now enjoys average weekly flower sales of around £2,000. And he only stocks the best getting them in directly from Holland.
There’s no doubt flowers are big business. According to New Covent Garden Market, £2bn-worth are sold in the UK every year. You might want to get involved with British Flowers Week June 13-19. It’s a growing event (excuse the pun!) due to the popularity of flowers from artisan growers. People like to buy British so why not try promoting them?