A 6am start for a tour to Flora Holland - a huge flower and potplant auction house. The scale of this auction centre is incredible. This centre which is more like a village, is a grower co-op employing 8000 staff. It has been running for 100 years and generates 4.1 billion Euro turnover per annum.
These trolleys of flowers are on automated, continuous tracks moving around the factory.
It was amazing to see the range of cut flowers on display. The logistics of receiving, selling and distributing flowers and potplants is extraordinary.
There is a theatre style facility for buyers to sit in to place their bids at the flower auction. Other buyers can bid electronically from their offices or homes.
Auctions run on the basis of the Dutch auction system where bids start high and work down until someone places a bid and wins the lot number. There is a very large elctronic auction clock which buyers bid on. This clock describes the flower variety and number being offered. This method creates a very fast sales system with 1500 transactions every hour. There are 41 of these clocks offering different varieties, all operating simultaneously. 12 billion flowers are sold annually plus a further 600 million potplants. With this super fast logistics and sales system, flowers are delivered around the world usually within 2 days of being picked.
We then had a session on the fundamentals of co-ops both in NZ and the Netherlands. Co-ops have proven to be a successful trading arrangement. We heard presentations on this subject from industry leaders and a professor to give us a better understanding on how co-ops work, their strengths and weaknesses.
The United Nations has named 2012 as 'The Year of the Co-op'.