WHOLESALERS TO OUTSOURCE FLORAL PROGRAMS

MIAMI -- A pair of wholesalers plans on blossoming this spring by utilizing services from TotalFloral, Miami. AG New England, Manchester, N.H., and Affiliated Foods Southwest, Little Rock, Ark., have agreed to offer TotalFloral's services to their customers.The AG New England rollout, beginning immediately, is expected to affect all 250 stores, which are mostly independents in Connecticut, Vermont,

MIAMI -- A pair of wholesalers plans on blossoming this spring by utilizing services from TotalFloral, Miami. AG New England, Manchester, N.H., and Affiliated Foods Southwest, Little Rock, Ark., have agreed to offer TotalFloral's services to their customers.

The AG New England rollout, beginning immediately, is expected to affect all 250 stores, which are mostly independents in Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and New York. The agreement will involve offering both TotalFloral's products and services, which include personnel working with the retailer to achieve the floral department's goals, as well as a full floral product line.

Affiliated Foods, which owns retail outlets operating under the Harvest Foods, Piggly Wiggly and SaveMart banners, has reached a similar agreement.

TotalFloral helps develop and provide signs, fixtures and education for retail and wholesale clients, according to Chris Buss, TotalFloral president. Currently, TotalFloral is involved in an eight-year partnership with Weis Markets, a self-distributed, 165-unit chain based in Sunbury, Pa. It also works with C&S Wholesalers, Brattleboro, Vt.

Currently, AG New England does not offer any specific floral services to its customers. The retailers used several suppliers as they felt necessary, and not much time was devoted to the categories, according to Buss. Quite often, the produce manager was also the floral manager, which left little time for either set of duties.

"The holidays, such as Easter, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, were the only time the category was getting any attention," said Buss.

With the direction of the client's floral category manager, TotalFloral develops a floral sales and merchandising strategy as specified in a retailer's goals. The assigned personnel from TotalFloral then create an execution plan and carry out the proposal with the help of the retailer or wholesaler.

"A wholesaler may define excellence as developing an exciting floral program to offer to their independent grocers. Part of this process is, of course, helping the wholesalers communicate the program to their customers and ensuring that each independent operator is successful in the floral category," explained Buss.