- Written by Caroline Marshall-Foster
- January 01, 2017
- Category: Editor's Blog
Now before I say anything please, please don’t take this as a personal criticism. I know there are some florists who make relay work for them but they tend to be bigger shops with better buying power and who have carefully structured their business so that discounted relay work doesn’t drag them down although even they admit it is hard.
As such, please take my comments on behalf of florists who don’t have the luxury of scale and the industry as a whole. Because even though I may be the daughter of an Interflora member, the fact is relay has changed out of all recognition. Long gone are the days when the members were involved/considered and – dare I say it – appreciated. Now the big relays are owned by investors who only have one concern. Bottom line profit and return on their investment.
And that is very dangerous; indeed continues to have the power to destroy the independent florist sector – not help it.
Because the only way to achieve a relay company’s expectations is for the florist members to carry ALL the overhead. Not just the pretty horrendous percentage they take for passing you an order (often culled from your own area due to their aggressive marketing stance or via order gatherers they all support) but all the infra structure that makes making the design possible in the first place; like rent, rates, staff, delivery vehicles, flowers, sundries etc etc.
In fact, as detailed in one of the sales documents I read (I think relays would be my Mastermind subject!) relay companies are basically cash cows and other than a Head Office and staff, carry absolutely NO cost or risk. And having read the 1800 and FTD financials, whilst one is doing better than the other, it is still pretty darned profitable - we are talking mega millions of pounds!
Meanwhile florists around the UK – heck world – are scrabbling to make ends meet and, with some hefty uplifts coming through in the UK in terms of minimum wage, pension contributions etc, I think many are going to be challenged big time in 2017.
Which is why I have taken the decision to publish the Relay Profit Calculator spread sheet Lesley Nash* and a florist member* of Interflora put together back in October 2015. I mentioned it back then but got cold feet about making it public but now I think ‘why not’? There are far too many florists out there who don’t know how to work it out, aren’t sure what to include and actually, if a member of the public does see it so what? It will show that, far from raking it in, florists actually work for very little profit and that it is the corporates making the dosh!
if you want a useable Excel sheet to do your own calculations email email@example.com with your shop name and we’ll send you a copy.
1: This chart was prepared using information from 2015 and is designed as a guide only, rather than a definitive given some figures may have changed since it was made. However, it shows the basic principle of what you should include/allow for when doing your own financial analysis and what to consider when determining the viability of relay orders compared to your own local orders.
2: The author, Lesley Nash, owns Jennifleurs in Colchester and was an Interflora member before deciding it was no longer viable even though she had a revenue of circa £100k from relay alone. In her 60 Second interview she explains why giving relay up was the best decision she made and why she has never looked back.
3: The relay member who worked with Lesley has to remain anonymous for their own protection but is an established member with proven credentials.