As a Florensis customer, you are undoubtedly familiar with one of our highlight products, the Pelargonium. The Toscana brand, to which the Pelargonium belongs, has been known in the market for 20 years now for its reliable and high-quality plants. At Florensis, we thought the 20-year anniversary of Toscana was a good moment to look back at the origins of the brand and to reflect on how Florensis has grown in 10 years to become European market leader. In an interview with Leo Hoogendoorn, CEO at Florensis, we take you along in the history of Toscana.
2002 – 2007: Silze
In the 90’s, German breeding couple Mr. and Mrs. Fischer started a breeding programme for Pelargoniums at family-owned company Silze. Silze had built up a good reputation in the market, where their customers could buy Pelargoniums for more than 10 years. In 2002 the brand name Toscana was added to the Pelargonium product range. Hoogendoorn: "The brand name had to evoke warm feelings, a friendly atmosphere and happy thoughts."
“The brand name had to evoke warm feelings, a friendly atmosphere and happy thoughts." - Leo Hoogendoorn, CEO
2007: Partnership Silze – Van der Haak – Hamer
Since 2002, Silze has been expanding its product range. In 2007, a partnership between Silze, Perry van der Haak and Hamer Bloemzaden (founding name of Florensis) was started. This partnership was established in order to sell, produce and distribute the Toscana varieties on a larger scale in Europe. At that time, most of the distribution took place in Germany. The partnership was set up with Silze as the breeder, Perry van der Haak as the producer and Hamer for sales and distribution. In the years that followed the market share grew, as more and more Toscana varieties were sold.
2012: Florensis takes over Toscana
Together with the American company Ball, Florensis and Perry van der Haak took over the complete Toscana product range from Silze in 2012. From this moment on, customers can come to Florensis for a reliable product of superior quality. Around the same time, Florensis took over several production facilities in Kenya. This is where the production of all Pelargonium varieties since then has been organised on a large scale.
During the first year after the take-over, Mr. and Mrs. Fischer continue to work at the Silze production facility in Germany. Fabienne Monté is hired as a new breeder at Florensis. To start well prepared, she first works for a year in Germany with Mr. and Mrs. Fischer. In the same year, a facility is built in Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht so that the breeding of the plants could take place in The Netherlands. Since 2013, Fabienne leads the worldwide Toscana breeding programme from Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht.
2017: Endisch breeding program takeover
In 2016, Florensis is approached by Endisch, a breeder who, like Florensis, had the Pelargonium in its range. Florensis supported Endisch to overcome problems caused by issues at their mother stock location in Egypt. Hoogendoorn says: "Together with Perry van der Haak we helped Endisch out by delivering healthy unrooted cuttings directly to their customers. This eventually led to Florensis taking over the entire breeding programme of Endisch.” It was an opportunity for Florensis to expand Toscana with series and varieties that were still missing and thus complementary to the existing product range. What followed was a complete rebranding of Toscana. The integrated plants were given names that better matched the assortment. The starting point was that it had to be easier for the growers to understand what series and varieties they could order at any time.
2022: Market leader
Toscana's proposition for supplying high quality Pelargoniums has been strong from its foundation. Hoogendoorn: "We have had the brand for 10 years now and we have always remained loyal to it." The acquisition of Toscana, the further development of the assortment and the Endisch genetics takeover has today led to Florensis being the market leader within Europe. Hoogendoorn: "If a grower asks for Pelargoniums, Toscana is automatically referred to.” With multiple production facilities in Africa, Florensis ensures not only quality but also a high degree of reliability. By splitting these activities, growers can always rely on Florensis to deliver what is promised.
A sustainable future
The changing climate is increasing the pressure for Florensis to develop technologies to make plant varieties tolerant to drought. Hoogendoorn: "With the advent of modern breeding techniques, we want to ensure that if you go on holiday for one week, and you have not watered your plants for example, the plant will still survive." For Florensis, it is important that there is always innovation within the product range. From the point of view of the end consumer, such a development increases customer satisfaction, which in turn makes it easier for the growers to sell the product to the retailers.
Besides drought tolerance, Florensis wants to focus on expanding the Toscana colour range and the development of sustainability techniques. "Sustainability has been of high importance since Florensis was founded. Although we have already taken steps, we can still grow in this area. As for the future of Pelargoniums, this species is and will certainly remain one of our most important products at Florensis. If we continue to innovate sufficiently, I still see a lot of potential," Hoogendoorn says.
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