British cut-flower wholesalers have hit out at Dutch traders who sell from lorries without restriction.
New Covent Garden-based KG Flowers managing director Costa Foufas said: “The Government should hit [Dutch traders] like they hit us with VAT and regulations — the Dutch load up their lorries at the other end and make easy money in the UK.
“They even bring their own diesel so they don’t have to buy fuel here.”
He was responding to reports that the UK cut-flower trade was suffering as a result of the increase in Dutch traders.
“We often have to plan our routes and times to beat some of the regular arrivals on the Eurotunnel,” claimed one wholesaler in West Sussex. “Some of my flower shop customers get a visit from a Dutch lorry once a week and they are offered big discounts for buying large amounts.
“Sometimes the flowers have been on the lorries for three days or so. We have to be one step ahead by delivering fresh flowers daily and to order.”
Flowers & Plants Association representative Andrea Caldecourt said: “Wholesalers in the UK offer a wide range of services that the Dutch can not. Most have done so for some time — but others are introducing extra services to compete with the Dutch lorries.
“For example, some can deliver lilies that have been specially opened just in time for a wedding day. They can take orders well in advance and deliver special orders when the florist requires them.”
Caldecourt said there were many parts of the UK where the Dutch lorries were useful: “Not all areas have a wholesaler within easy reach who can deliver. For them the Dutch lorries are fulfilling a service.”
Foufas said: “[These traders] are reducing our business across the UK — particularly East Anglia and the South East because those areas are where the lorries come in.
“Smaller wholesalers do suffer in these areas and some who have been badly hit may have found this to be the last straw on top of heavy overheads. The Government should take action, but it won’t because it is just not bothered.”
He said his company offered overnight deliveries of fresh flowers to anywhere in the UK — a service the Dutch could not offer.
British growers supply about 10 per cent of the UK’s domestic cut flower needs — down from 45 per cent 20 years ago.
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