- Written by Caroline Marshall-Foster
Everyone knows Country Baskets are probably the UK's biggest cash and carry with 8 branches, over 20,000 lines and a Price Promise that means you won't find anywhere cheaper – although ask your local branch for details in case you didn't know that one!
But what you might not know is that Country Baskets also sponsor and help a load of people in the florist industry. Not just because they are jolly nice but because the company reckons it's right and proper to give back to the industry they served.
So when we were up at HQ we took a root round the files to find the 10 things Country Baskets have done in the last year which not a lot of people know about. As our list shows the results were wide and varied!
1. Country Baskets have a special College programme whereby students and tutors can come in and not just see the range on offer but have an in-house play date as well when they help set up display areas in their local branches. This is the Hugh Baird College hard at work at the Manchester branch but other colleges that have been in to Country Baskets include Bicton College who went to Bristol, Moreton Morrell who visited Birmingham and Greenmount who are coming to the Glasgow branch in April.
2. When Graeme Robinson, who is studying for his BA hons in Floristry at Myerscough College and works for Julia's Florist in Bradford, asked for help with his college project Country Baskets sponsored him with £150 of product. This will enable Graeme to create a large scale 3D piece of floral art for one of his modules which will be on show in a gallery exhibition at the Bankfield Museum in Halifax. The exhibition, called Pandora's Soul will run from 19th – 23rd April.
3. Country Baskets are huge supporters of the British Florist association and for the 4th year running have paid the £4,500 it costs for BFA to be part of Florint and which means they can be part of the pan European programme of events and information.
4. Still with Florint, Country Baskets are helping sponsor Laura Leong, our UK contender in the Europa Cup being held in Genoa in April while closer to home they host the Scottish heat for the BFA Chelsea Florist of the Year in their Glasgow branch
5. She actually wears no 63 but when Lindsey Robson from Charlton's Florist in Crook, Co Durham needed some sponsorship for her American Footballing dream Country Baskets stepped into help as Doreen O'Brien, PPD co-ordinator explained. "Over the last few years Lindsey has worked incredibly hard to not only run two successful floristry businesses but also find time for her slightly different passion, American football. Lindsey is a loyal Gold Card customer, so we were more than happy to support her on her journey." A journey that now means Lindsey is part of Team GB!!!
6. When it comes to young florists Country Baskets are seriously involved. Not only did they sponsor the Debut Designer platform at Fleurex last October but also gave a whole load of product for the UK Skills competition back in November.
7. Building the stand for the International Spring Fair is a marathon job and needs the best help possible to get it looking gorgeous. Which is why Country Baskets always employ Gold Card carrying florists to help them. Team members in 2016 included Mark Harrington from Citiblooms, Kathryn Delve from Bespoke Blooms and a tutor at the Academy of Floral Art and Amanda Winsor.
8. The Tour de France is a major event and Country Baskets are the turn-to sponsor of the floral decorations. For the 2015 event Gold Card florists, Sue Clarke and Bev Jelf, who run Betty Kit and Co were responsible for the gorgeous Candelabra and arches at the 100 Day Dinner Launch dinner held in Ripon Cathedral as well as the elegant martini glass designs that graced the departure dinner held the Royal Hall in Harrogate. For the final dinner, which was held at Leeds Arena, Gordon Jones of Cottage Garden Florist in Nelson created high impact illuminated anthurium designs, again with the support of Country Baskets.
9. They may be a national chain, with all the benefits of bulk buying etc. but working with their local floral community is hugely important to each branch. At Bristol they are hosts to the Academy of Floral Art who hold classes in the cash and carry.
10. Working with local Gold Card florists goes one step further as they are given free display areas and £50 of sundries to promote their own services to Country Baskets huge consumer customer base at selected demonstrations and events. A brilliant way of showcasing their skills and picking up extra business as Eden Floristry said "today I have picked up 4 weddings and had several more firm enquiries."
To find out more about how Country Baskets can help you sign up and become a Gold Card member. Not only will it entitle you to some great discounts, the Price Promise Pledge and a huge range of sundries but regular updates from your local branch on what else is going on. Visit www.countrybaskets.co.uk for registration details and branch addresses.