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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The sad demise of Termeulen Roses and three other horticultural companies in Almere Buiten. Victims of the economic boycotts between Russia and the EU or just four other victims of the enduring economic crisis in The Netherlands?!

Yesterday I learned from my beloved wife Olga that Termeulen Roses [please read the disclaimer in the footer of this blog – EL] in Almere Buiten and a few other horticultural companies in my city had defaulted during 2015.
This was very sad news for me.

Especially Termeulen Roses was one of those companies that make a person proud of his city. The enormous greenhouses of this one-man business, vibrant of life and with sizes as large as football fields,  were filled to the brim with beautiful, growing roses in all colours of the rainbow. And visitors were welcomed with the delicate fragrances, spread by the different sorts of roses that Termeulen produced. This all made the greenhouse such an inspirational environment.

The roses and plants in the greenhouses were litterally humming from the insects that acted as natural fertilizers (bees and bumblebees) or as environmentally friendly parasite exterminators (a.o. lady bugs), while the greenhouses themselves – in spite of their enormous energy consumption especially during  night – acted as huge energy cells, returning loads of excess energy to the energy grid.

The entrance part of the greenhouse complex was a sheer jungle of stainless steel, as a complex of assembly lines, rail systems, gathering machines, bundling machines and packaging machines turned the freshly cut roses into wrapped rose bouquets within minutes. After being packaged, the roses were sent to the cold store, in order to wait for the beginning of their – sometimes long – journey to someone’s house or office, as the ultimate token of appreciation and love.

For me this company – and a few other horticultural companies in the same area as well – was the place to be when I wanted to buy the best and most beautiful roses for my wife and for other people, who deserved a special attention.

Only during spring 2015, Olga, I and the children visited the greenhouse of Termeulen Roses during the national ‘Enter the Greenhouse’-day (in Dutch: Kom in de Kas) and once again we were amazed with the splendour and beauty of such a greenhouse in full bloom. Sadly enough, those days are now over for this company, probably foregood.

Olga, me and two of our children at Termeulen Roses
during the Enter the Greenhouse day in April, 2015
Picture made by: Termeulen Roses
Click to enlarge
 Also the three other horticultural companies in the same area in Almere Buiten, which have defaulted during 2015, were probably equally vibrant and inspirational companies with beautiful and tasty produce, created by using the latest agricultural technology in combination with sheer craftsmanship: one grower of ornamental plants and two – connected – companies producing vegetables.
Bankruptcy Notice Termeulen Roses
Picture courtesy of:
Click to enlarge

Bankruptcy Notice of in total four horticultural
companies in Almere-Buiten in 2015
Picture courtesy of:
Click to enlarge
Yet, their energy, high quality and craftsmanship was not enough to carry their companies through the crisis. What was the reason for the sad demise of these companies, I don’t know yet.

Initially I thought that the default of these four companies had been caused by the mutual economic boycotts between Russia and the European Union. The reasons for these economic boycotts were perfectly clear and – as far as I’m concerned – totally defensible from European perspective.

The Russian political and military interference in the Ukrainian internal conflict and the bloody civil war inside this country that this interference caused, were by itself already reason enough to establish such economic boycotts by the EU.

And when the MH17 civil airplane was shot down above Eastern Ukraine by a BUK missile, arguably fired by pro-Russian rebels (or perhaps even by Russian military representatives in the area), there was almost nothing else that the EU could do than establishing fierce economic measures aimed at Russia and the Russian population. These measures were inevitable to express the EU’s heartfelt outrage, without escalating the situation beyond control.

That Russia would not accept these economic measures without protesting, was perfectly clear from the beginning. And therefore it didn’t come as a surprise that Russia responded with equally fierce measures against the European Union and The Netherlands.

This Russian boycott – although it was not applicable to flowers and ornamental plants as far as I know – and the general economic hardship in Russia of 2015 caused a steep drop in the sales of flowers to Russia of almost 25% in the first seven months of 2015. This is shown by the following chart based on data from Floridata and the VGB (i.e. the Dutch Association of Wholesalers in Ornamental Plants and Flowers) shows:

Chart with sales figures for the horticultural industry
ranging from 2015-01 to 2015-07
Picture courtesy of: Floridata and the VGB
Click to enlarge
Elaboration of the aforementioned sales figures
for the horticultural industry
ranging from 2015-01 to 2015-07
Data courtesy of: Floridata and the VGB
Click to enlarge
The peculiar thing, however, was that the sale of flowers and ornamental plants actually had a very good year in the first seven months of 2015, with a sales rise of 3.46%. The loss in income for the whole industry, coming from Russia and Germany, had been more than compensated by the soaring sales in the United Kingdom, which amounted to an €86 million sales growth (or 17.5%), not even to mention France and other unnamed countries, which yielded a sales growth north of €100 million.

However, the nasty snag of growing flowers (and agricultural produce in general) is that people and companies mostly specialize in only a few kinds of flowers, ornamental plants and vegetables. And different countries and distribution areas require different kinds of flowers, plants and agricultural produce. The ‘jack of all trades’ would be out of business soon in this line of industry, as he can’t produce the quality and quantities that are required for the business to be profitable.

So in case that one business’  agricultural product is very dependent on exports to a certain country or a certain area of distribution and the sales to this area of distribution evaporate for agricultural, economic or political reasons, then this business could lose a large share of his sales and litterally be out of business in a matter of days or weeks.

As said, I don’t know what is the background of these companies’ defaulting.

These companies could all be victims of the economic boycotts between Russia and the EU... but on the other hand also simple victims of the enduring economic crisis in The Netherlands.

Perhaps, when the Dutch economy would have improved a few months earlier, all these companies would have been saved. That, we will never know.

Yet, I consider the loss of these three companies a severe loss for my region, my city and finally my family and me.

Disclaimer: In this article I am writing about the specific company ‘Termeulen Roses’, established at the Hugo de Vriesweg 14 in Almere Buiten, with Chamber of Commerce number 32156570 and bankruptcy case number F.16/15/856. 

Any other horticultural company in Almere Buiten, operating under the same or a similar name, but from a different company address is explicitely not part of the bankruptcy case, mentioned as subject in this article! Also companies, which may be established at the same adress, but work under a different company name are explicitely not mentioned as subject in this article. The same is applicable to other companies mentioned in this article.

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