Business looks set to bloom at a massive flower packing and distribution centre in Derby after launching its own nationwide online delivery service.
In the past Morrisons Flowerworld, which employs around 400 people at the Derby Distribution Centre, in Sinfin, has prepared its blooms for sale in the supermarket giant’s 491 stores up and down the country.
At present, the site produces around 900,000 bouquets a week – but this could now be set to grow after the firm launched a service which allows customers to order luxury hand-tied bouquets online at Flowerworld.co.uk and have them delivered direct and free of charge to their door.
According to Flowerworld, each of its blooms are picked and shipped to customers in less than 36 hours.
However, the firm said that making sure each flower arrives from “field to vase” in top condition is an exact science – and the man responsible for helping ensure this is the firm’s flower manager Tim Woodhouse.
Mr Woodhouse applies a number of scientific “stress tests” to help ensure each of the 260 million blooms that pass through Flowerworld’s 17.5-acre Derby site each year is of the highest quality.
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This includes “stress testing” a small sample of every batch of flowers that arrives at the Derby site in what the firm calls a “flower gym”.
Mr Woodhouse said: “They are also put in acclimatised air conditioning chambers akin to those used by the SAS. This ensures only the most robust blooms are ever used and guarantees the highest quality of bouquet.
“For flowers we use that can only be grown overseas, they are put in a state of ‘sleep’ while in transit to maintain freshness. By cooling the plants to just below 6C life processes are temporarily slowed with flowers ‘woken up’ on arrival, warmed and fed.”
Another part of Mr Woodhouse’s role is to develop new diets for the flower to give them the nutrition to survive for as long as possible.
He is also involved in developing ways of eliminating pests from flower crops by biological control, developing natural and unique ecosystems, instead of using pesticides.
Mr Woodhouse said that he works out what flowers customers are most likely to buy based on expert advice from celebrity florists, the fashion industry and home decor gurus.
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He said: “We forecast what flowers customers want and then we select the seeds for the flower that in some cases may take up to two years to grow.”
A botanist with a family history in flowers and plants going back generations, as well as working with growers directly, Mr Woodhouse manages his own flower fields – including an acre of wildflower habitats across the Flowerworld site working with bee conservation project Plan Bee, which aims to maintain bee populations in the region.
Morrisons bought Flowerworld in 2011 after working with Mr Woodhouse and his team for almost 20 years.
Before the deal, Flowerworld, which was established in 1987 by the Woodhouse family, provided fresh-cut flowers, plants, bulbs, seeds, wreaths and bouquets to florists and retailers.
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Morrisons decided to buy the business to improve the quality and freshness of the flowers it sells in its stores.
Tim’s Top Tips for Making Flowers Last in the Home
Fill a clean vase with fresh tap water and Morrisons Flower Food following the instruction on the sachet.
Cut approximately 1cm from the end of all flower stems at a 45 degree angle.
Remove any leaves that will be below the water level.
Place flowers in the vase as soon as possible to prevent air bubbles getting into the stem.
Display in a cool location out of direct bright sunlight where possible.
Refresh the flowers every three to four days by re-cutting the stems and placing in fresh clean water.
If the water in your vase goes cloudy it is because of bacteria growing in the water so change the water before the bacteria block the flower stems.
Keep away from ethylene emitting fruit bowls, especially strawberries and bananas.
Do not ‘bash’ the flower stems before putting them into the vase – it is an old belief that it supposedly increases the water intake of the flower but it actually helps bacteria grow in the water which is bad for the flowers.
Source: Derby Telegraph