Flamingo Horticulture acquires Butters

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We are pleased to announce that the Flamingo Horticulture Group have finalised the acquisition of Butters Group Ltd with effect from 18th September 2017. The Flamingo Horticulture Group has businesses in the UK, continental Europe and Africa whilst in parallel working with a number of supply partners across the globe. Flamingo is a major supplier of fresh cut flowers and produce to the UK and continental Europe. In the UK Flamingo has sites in Stevenage, Sandy, Spalding and Weston and employs just under 1,000 people in the UK.

The Butters Group has an operation in Spalding, Lincolnshire with over 300 staff working across their flower, plant and nursery divisions. Butters has operated highly successfully in both the UK retail and home delivery markets developing strong partnerships with major high street supermarkets and DIY outlets such as Marks & Spencer, J Sainsbury, Waitrose, ASDA, Wilko and B&Q.

As a major supplier into the UK retail market the acquisition by Flamingo offers the perfect opportunity to consolidate areas of knowledge and expertise and build on the strong commercial relationships that exist in both businesses. David Brown, Managing Director of Flamingo Flowers Ltd, stated "we are extremely excited by this acquisition. We believe it is a complimentary fit to our existing Horticulture businesses and will allow us take another step forward in growing the Flamingo Horticulture group as a whole".


If you there are any questions in relation to the above please contact:

David Brown, Managing Director Flamingo Flowers - David.Brown@flamingo.net

Andy Coaten, Managing Director Butters Ltd - Andy.Coaten@butters.co.uk

Martin Hudson, CEO Flamingo Horticulture Investments - Martin.Hudson@flamingo.net

Kind regards,

Martin Hudson

Meet the team....

Sharon Sampson

Sales Support – Plant Division

I started as a Production Operator within the Plants Division, on a temporary part-time basis. I soon progressed to the label room where I had to ensure the labels for all customer orders were ready for production to complete the daily production runs. I was then approached regarding an office based role to assist the Account Manager with our M&S Account. In this role I ensure the administration function for the account is completed by adding daily orders in to the system and keeping the forecast up to date, which ensures production knows what they need to produce and by when. I am still in this role and I love dealing with our customers on a day to day basis.

Pedro Saraiva

Production Supervisor – Flowers Division

Starting in early 2011 as a Team Leader running the Vandenberg machine and managing a small team of people, I soon had the opportunity to progress to a different area of the business. In the print room I was responsible for ensuring that all labels printed contained the right information before being distributed to production. I also got involved in the planning of the production runs which meant that I had to work closely with other areas of the business to ensure that we had the right amount of product, people and the capacity to generate and deliver the orders. After a while I was approached to take up the role of Relief Supervisor in the main production area. This meant that I would be managing a team of up to 50 employees on a daily bases – a challenge at times but one I enjoyed! It wasn’t long before I was offered the role on a permanent bases. Since joining the Company I have trained to become: First Aider, Fork Lift Driver and I hold the Alcohol licence for the site. More recently I have just completed the in-house Supervisor training course.

Simon Bell

Supervisor – Growing Division

I started at Westside Nursery in 2011, a few months after the nursery was opened where my initial role was as a Nursery Operative. I soon recognised that if I pushed myself to learn and understand more about how the nursery worked I would be in a good position to progress further, if a role became available. My career path has been from Nursery Operative to Assistant Team Leader helping torun the transplanter & potting machines, to team leader taking control of the potting area and looking after the spacing, to Production Supervisor which involves me taking control of all packing and product going to the main packhouse and to other customers. I have completed my NVQ level 2 in horticulture passing my PA1 and PA 6 allowing me to spray product; also I have recently completed a supervisor’s course to allow me to learn different techniques in handling different situations. Looking forward there will be more opportunities for me to develop of my career as the nursery expands.

Gold for M&S at Chelsea

We’re thrilled to be suppliers for the M&S stand which won gold for the third year in a row at the Chelsea Flower Show. This years stand is all about capturing the feeling of the Mediterranean – think rolling hills peppered with fragrant herbs, shady courtyards and sunny terraces covered in trailing flowers.

Butters have been supporting M&S at the prestigious Chelsea show since the first exhibit in 2012. Malcolm Catlin, technical manager for Butters, has been busy trying to source the perfect flowers, plants and herbs. His research has taken him all over Europe, meaning the exhibit includes flora from Denmark, Holland, Sicily and Italy, as well as the nursery in Spalding. Simon Richards, who created the concept for this year’s exhibit said “This summer we’re championing the stunning flower varieties of the Mediterranean and are so pleased that we can feature blooms and plants from UK suppliers such as Butters.” Mr Catlin added: “We’ve really enjoyed working with the M&S team on Spirit of Summer: A Mediterranean Journey. “The project has embodied so many varieties of plants, flowers and herbs, from bright and colourful florals to strong, structural native plants that define the garden.” People who visit the M&S garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which runs from May 23-27, have been promised to be taken on ‘a vibrant, floral journey through an authentic Mediterranean courtyard’.

NFU visit Butters to discuss Brexit

NFU Deputy President, Minette Batters, visited the Spalding area this week (Tuesday 11 April) to learn more about the flower industry and listen to members’ concerns over Brexit.

Ms Batters said: “UK cut flower production is worth around £80m, with the cut flower and indoor plant market worth an estimated £2.2 billion at retail level.

“It is estimated that almost 40% of England’s cut flowers are grown in Lincolnshire. This industry employs many thousands of workers, picking and packing home-grown flowers and producing retail-ready products from imported flowers. Uncertainty about the future for all sectors of farming and horticulture is keenly felt by the businesses I visited today, which employ mainly non-UK born labour. The NFU will do everything it can to ensure government works to ensure a continued supply of flexible and skilled workers post Brexit.”

Danny O’Shea, county adviser for Holland (Lincs) and horticulture lead for in the East Midlands, added: “It was great to see Minette in South Lincolnshire today, we definitely learnt a lot about the flower industry and heard loud and clear the concerns of our members on the ground over the potential implications of the UK’s exit from Europe.

"We will continue to ensure that these concerns are raised at a national level and do everything we can to ensure this vital sector thrives in a post Brexit landscape.”

Best of Butters 2016

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This year, for the first time, we held our awards ceremony at our Plants site.  We glammed up a corner of the factory, to give it the Oscars treatment, there was no expense spared!!  We splashed out on balloons, party nibble food and even the good old red carpet for the winners to strut down!

The Winners of the 2016 Best of Butters Awards are……

Best of Butters Colleague of the Year

Geoff Hunt - Geoff joined the Company 22 April 2013 as the Engineering Manager for Butters Group.  Geoff was awarded with £200.

Best of Butters Team of the Year

Plants Technical Team - Following a number of changes, the team have grown into a strong solid team.  The Plants Technical Team were awarded with £400.

Colleague Outstanding Achievement Award

Kim Fovargue - Kim works within the Westside Nursery Team, she joined in 2011 as a Team Leader and has progressed up through the nursery and is now a Marketing Supervisor. 

Mike Bracegirdle - Mike is an Account Manager within our Commercial Team.  Unfortunately, Mike was unable to attend the award ceremony and collect his certificate as he was dealing with an unexpected emergency!

Aivis Kaminski - Aivis is a Cultural Supervisor within our Westside Nursery Team.  Unfortunately, Aivis was unable to attend the award ceremony so one of his colleagues collected his certificate on his behalf.

Best of Butters Community Impact

Tracy Palmer - Tracy works within the Flowers Team as a Packaging Buyer.  Tracy has supported numerous charity events and last October she ran the Great Eastern half marathon for Macmillan Cancer.  She is actively involved in coaching children’s football teams and has spent a lifetime of adopting children.  Tracy was awarded with £200 to be donated to her chosen charity.

Best of Butters Outstanding Innovation

Home Delivery Insert Team - The Team looked at ways to ensure that the product travels more securely on route to the customer.  Tracey Thomas, Nick Watson, Martin Brijs and Nick Matchett were each awarded with a £25 Love2Shop Voucher.

Gel Solution Team - The Team looked at using gel to extend the product life, whether it be in store or at home.  Debbie Back and Steve Kippax were each awarded with a £25 Love2Shop Voucher.  Tracey Thomas collected their award as neither Debbie or Steve could attend the actual award ceremony.

M&S Inspiration Award 2016

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The Butters team are absolutely delighted in winning the M&S Inspiration Award for 2016. The products that were nominated have been developed over the last twelve months to target product life extension linked with increasing product quality and reducing customer complaints. The gel is environmentally friendly, extends product life and increases plant health, whilst the insert has been developed for our Home delivery business to reduce vertical moment in transit to reduce damage complaints. Both developments have shown positive reduction in store waste and home delivery customer complaints, all part of the continuous research and development strategy at Butters.

Apprenticeship Programme

Our Growing Division is expanding which is highly exciting for the business as our growth strategy continues. However, this does bring challenges to the business in terms of attracting new colleagues into the industry. 

We recognised that Horticulture historically is not known as an area that attracts new people into it and predominately has an aging workforce who have been dedicated to the industry for many years. 

This workforce has a wealth of knowledge and experience that urgently needs tapping into and transferring across to the next generation, ensuring the industry continues to grow and flourish in the future, as it has done for many years.

Trend Forecast Autumn Winter 2016

As part of Butters Group new product development, we generate seasonal trend forecast which are shared externally to our client base. Please find our generic horticulture guide focusing on hardware here, which is looking at Autumn, Winter 2016. Please find below links to previous trend documents;

Winter 2016

Spring 2016

Winter 2015

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Harnessing the big Lincolnshire skies

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As a company we are keen to explore clean energy alternatives to offset the rising energy costs of the business, the firm asked Freewatt to handle the installation of a new rooftop solar array.

A 249 kWp system was delivered, made up of 960 panels which were installed to the main office roof at our Kellett Gate site, all of which took four weeks to complete. Panels were fitted on to a steel trapezoidal roof at an angle of 10 degrees, 12 meters above the ground. The six-strong team used scaffolding on the steel portal framed building safely and considerately, working around the site’s day-to-day operations at all times. The panels have a 25 year life span.

Now complete, it is generating more than 220MWh of clean energy per year, cutting the company’s carbon footprint by more than 100 tonnes and giving Butters significant savings on our energy bills. This is 25% of our own requirement and equivalent to the average consumption of 45 U.K. households.

Excess electricity can be exported to the grid, approx. 20% of what will be generated.

Freewatt provided total support for us, drawing on the technical expertise of its project management team to devise the most appropriate solution, delivered efficiently and to the highest quality.

Best of Butters

In October of 2014 the business launched its brand new employee recognition award “Best of Butters”. These awards were introduced to allow our colleagues within the business to recognise each contributions and achievements during the year.

For our first year we had a large number of nominations come flooding in from all areas of the business, which was great. Our colleagues are our greatest assets and for them to have this facility to recognise each other contribution and achievement through-out the year, is absolutely fantastic. The awards were awarded by Andy Coaten, Managing Director at our annual party in January 2015.

Colleague of the Year - David Hunt - David has not only been nominated by his colleagues but also the customer, who have his picture hanging on the office wall. David has shown exceptional customer care internally and externally and always goes that extra mile to ensure the task is completed to the highest standard

Outstanding Achievement - Lynda Nixon started June 2009 at our plants division and very quickly showed the business that she was a great people person, who had the ability to lead and motivate employees. Now based at our flowers division Lynda has been instrumental in the success of the site and has developed in to a fantastic supervisor who very quickly earns the respect of people around her.

Outstanding Achievement - Becky Lowe started in September 2011 and over this last year has really started to shine and become an excellent team leader within our flowers division. Becky ran one of the off-site locations during peak asking for very little management support, which is testament to how far she has progressed.

Team of the Year - Westside - Three years ago we took a bold decision to start growing some of the plants that we supply to our customers. Starting with a modest 3 acres in year we are now at 12 acres in year 4 and with a turnover £3m. The decision to go into growing has been a major success and this success is down to the Westside team who run the nursery as if it’s their own business.

Outstanding Innovation - James Swift has been responsible for the total rebranding on the Group and the overall design of the main reception. Bringing us bang up to date and on trend, creating a talking point with both customers and visitors.

Outstanding Achievement - Tracey Moger & Angela Cawley had the idea of reducing line 18 to a team of 4 people to handle the small volume high value direct mail lines, then move all packaging/add-ons closer to the line on racking to reduce waiting time and speed up changeovers. This idea was implemented and has since evolved into the running two small dedicated lines on the later shift for direct mail improving overall efficiency on the direct mail accounts by over 50%.

Community impact - Three Peaks Challenge Team - Every two years Butters takes part in an event to raise money for charity. This year we did the Yorkshire three peaks and had 15 people taking part in the challenge, raising £4500.

Outstanding Achievement Award - Diane Gill (not attending) – One of our Westside employees gives up a lot of her own time to help others. Diane over the last year has run a marathon, completed a 24 hour endurance challenge and regularly works at Moulton Mill as a volunteer. Diane has raised over £3000 for Sue Ryder Hospice this year.