Interflora sees business opportunity blooming in big fat Indian weddings

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on July 17, 2018

Flower major looks to bring a cargo plane every week, laden with imported flowers

As India celebrates 10 million weddings a year, global flower delivery major Interflora smells a huge opportunity.

In less than a year of setting up operations in Mumbai, the company is looking to bring in one cargo plane every week, filled to the brim with imported flowers worth ₹2 crore.

A tall order? Not exactly, smiles Tarun Joshi, CEO, Interflora India. “The total floral consumption in India is roughly close to $1 billion and it is a growing and healthy market. Remove religious reasons and poor quality flowers and it is still an $800-million business,” Joshi told BusinessLine.

The 10 million weddings a year that India hosts are the icing on the cake for this global company, which operates across nearly 140 major markets such as the US, the UK, Australia, Europe and select Asian countries.

“At every wedding, however small in India, there is at least 5 per cent usage of flowers. As for the bigger ones, that is an opportunity that is worth several crores. The current market landscape in India is a conducive one for the floral industry, with consumers open to integrating new product categories for gifting,” said Joshi.

Interflora buys flowers globally, not just from Holland, which has “the cheapest and widest variety of flowers”, but also from Kenya, Colombia and parts of Europe. In India, Joshi says, Delhi is the biggest market, apart from Mumbai and Bengaluru, which are the other hot favourites for retail. The company is eyeing ₹200-crore turnover by fiscal 2021, with plans to expand across the top 15 Indian cities, which account for 80 per cent of flower deliveries.

Other plans

Though imported flowers regularly arrive via passenger planes, Interflora has other plans for the India market. “In one year, our intention is to have one cargo plane filled with imported flowers to land in India each week. Every cargo plane would have flowers worth about ₹2 crore,” said Joshi.

Weddings are only the tip of the iceberg for the flower major.

“Luxury retail outlets and high-end stores are a big option. Fresh bouquets regularly fly off the shelves at high-end grocers across India. We conducted a pilot with retail store Foodhall in Mumbai, and it has been a massive success. We are also going to target all 5-star hotels; we already supply to 12 five-star chains across the country. Then comes the events portfolio, apart from weddings,” he said.

Interflora has been transporting its flowers to India in ‘dutch buckets’ which are kept alongside other luggage in aircrafts. “Flowers are transported in bad conditions. We decided to invest in the supply chain to crack the delivery hurdle. The delivery channel had to be created by us. We couldn’t rely on Blue Dart or Fedex which has already been delivering flowers. So, we decided on seperate cold trucks to carry the flowers,” he said.

The company has “created a flower factory at Mahim in Mumbai. The 4,000 sqft factory is maintained at 3-5 degrees. The cold helps the flowers, and care is taken to ensure that flowers are not shocked” as they traverse the journey from abroad.

Apart from importing flowers, the company is also inking deals directly with farmers. “We realised Talegaon in Pune has smaller roses. This did not fit our specifications. We moved to Bengaluru, where we got the exact size we wanted,” said Joshi. Apart from the 50 cm stem length and 4.5 cm of bud size, “even how the bud opens up has to fit certain parameters specified by the global company.” The company has entered into an arrangement to “take up the entire farm produce in certain areas of Bengaluru and Maharashtra.”

Published on July 17, 2018

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