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Valstar Handling and FGP Handling continue FHS service: what are the experiences?

May 8, 2024

Thierryvaneijk bewerkt
On 1 January 2024, Royal FloraHolland was forced to stop Flower Handling Services in Naaldwijk, the service that helps international growers get their products ready for the auction clock. We found two commercial parties willing to continue the service. How did that process go and how are things going now?

"Unfortunately, we did not manage to offer this service cost-effectively and so we decided to stop it," says Guido Vollebregt, team manager International Sales Accountmanagement at Royal FloraHolland. "To still maintain the service to growers, we first looked at whether some form of cooperation was possible. For this, we spoke to many agents. When that didn't work out, we left it to the market and two commercial companies stepped in."

'Hub Naaldwijk ready for the future'
"The period when it was all still unclear how things would turn out did create a lot of uncertainty," he continues. "How will things continue and who will pick up the work? It was a difficult time and that had an impact, especially for the employees. But even the moment we had found Valstar and FGP willing, it was still probing. What do we need from each other and what can we offer each other? Fortunately, both parties are very experienced. They know how to perform the services just as well at lower costs. The lines of communication were also short and we knew where to find each other quickly when challenges arose. All in all, we are satisfied with how things turned out. It is great that we have now found two successful parties, so hub Naaldwijk remains attractive also for international growers and that is important with a view to the future."

FGP Handling: 'Satisfied growers, that's what you do it for'
Flowers, Greens and Plants Handling focuses on summer flowers, mainly from Italy. The company was already operating at Rijnsburg, when this opportunity at Naaldwijk came along. Owner Thierry van Eijk (pictured above): "We had to start everything up pretty quickly, because on 1 December 2023 I got the lease under my nose, and from 1 January we went straight to work full steam ahead. That was quite tough because my people were not yet familiar with the new computer system. Fortunately, they picked it up quickly and it is now running perfectly. However, more time would have been nice to get things up and running here and to run a test for a while."

Thierry doesn't want to grow too stormily. "Steady growth works best for us. I am now in talks with new growers for the upcoming season. Imports continue until the supply from the Netherlands picks up. So it is very busy at our place in the winter and quiet in the summer months."

"The growers say they are very happy with us," he continues. "We also give tips on how to improve the presentation, because if everything is neat in front of the clock, it really makes a difference. If the flowers look tiptop, buyers are more inclined to pay a good price. The other day I spoke to a grower who had taken our advice, and his prices are absolutely top this year. Of course, you can never compare 1 to 1 with last year, but a good presentation certainly helps. And when growers then get compliments because we gave them advice; yes, that's what you do it for."

Valstar Handling: 'We first wanted to see how the wind blows'
Valstar Handling mainly processes roses, including from Kenya. Besides preparing products for auction, the company also does crop guidance, vase life tests and gives commercial advice to growers. Owner Geert Valstar is positive about how things are going now, although at he wanted to see which way the wind blows, he says. "We started low budget, because we first wanted to see if it was viable. Then we could increase volumes a bit and invest in the workplace. The important thing is that growers are happy, and they are with us. We even have some recruitment of new customers, who are still welcome, by the way."

That growers are content is partly thanks to Aniel (pictured below), a highly experienced force who came over from Royal FloraHolland. He was employed there for 26 years, the last 14 of which as relationship manager. Now, together with Geert Valstar Handling, he continues the service and keeps the daily operations running. He already had many good, long-standing contacts with many growers, and was able to bring them to Valstar. "You just need experienced people like Aniel to make it a success," says Geert. "I know what my customers need," adds Aniel. "With many growers I have a close relationship, and they were therefore happy for us to take over the work."