3 Questions to: Nicolaes Devriendt (Seasons Trade Connection BV)

The Belgian Company Seasons Trade Connection is specialized in seasonal products for home and garden, to be sold in specialized retail shops and garden centers. Seasons Trade Connection has a joint venture with the manufacturer of the flowerpots made of recycled plastic. A new series of pots has been launched recently under the label ECOPOT’S. They combine light weight with a very natural look and a long life of more than ten years. Nicolaes Devriendt is architect and Creative Director at Seasons Trade Connection BV.

What is the most striking point of ECOPOT’S?
Devriendt: The striking point of ECOPOT’S is that besides all requirements and quality you demand from a pot, you get a pot with a green label. ECOPOT’S are made of recycled plastic. To give you an idea: with 30 used petbottles we make one ECOPOT’S of 30 cm, a plastic pot with an attractive stonelook, that is very light but also very strong, easy to handle, frostproof, UV resistant and ecological at the same time. We think this is very striking!

What is the idea behind the look of the POT’S?
Devriendt: I studied architecture and that influenced me in the way I design my pottery. We named the POT’S after famous cities with great architecture. I make that link because like it is to design buildings, we design every detail to be functional and aesthetic at the same time. For example, our POT’S have a thin rim, which is a nice look but it also makes repotting easier. I made a strict selection of shapes and gave them a good proportion. Our design is minimalistic and timeless, which fits in our philosophy of longterm thinking.

ECOPOT’S have been available in garden centres in Belgium for some time. How about distribution in other countries and above all in Germany?
Devriendt: After a successful launch in whole Belgium we now have our position there. Now step by step, we carefully expand to other countries in Europe e.g. the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and also Germany! Outside Europe we will be present in Saudi Arabia, Kuweit, Israel, USA, Japan and Australia and a lot more to come.

Further information: ecopots.eu

 

3 Questions to: Peter Petrich (BIOTOP Landschaftsgestaltung GmbH)

The Austrian company BIOTOP, one of the major pioneers in the field of natural pools, more than 25 years ago introduced something completely new to the market: an alternative to the classic pool and its use of chemicals. Since 1985 Peter Petrich has been managing partner of the Biotop Landschaftsgestaltung GmbH. For its 30th anniversary the company takes a jump over the ocean with the objective to become the No. One in natural pools in the US.

What are your arguments to convince US consumers?
Petrich: The main argument will most likely be that you can have a pool in your backyard that can provide crystal clear water without any use of chemicals. You can have a wonderful lifestyle secure in the knowledge that you are doing the “right” thing. You can protect the health of your children and friends, and simultaneously contribute to the preservation of natural resources. Fun, luxury and the sustainment of nature – this all comes together in our pools. Anyone who made a jump in our show pools noticed that natural, living water feels different on your skin. But that can’t be described in words. Ultimately you have to swim in our pools yourself to experience it.

What target groups do you want to appeal to in the US?

Petrich: As in Europe we want to appeal to the upper end of pool owners. BIOTOP provides high-quality products and here we don’t want to make any concessions on the quality of the materials used. The investment in a Natural Pool or a Living Pool is an investment for two to three generations.  The grandchildren of our customers today should be able to say: “Our grandparents were very forward-minded when they invested in the pool.” This can only be the case when one relies on high quality.

The US is the largest market for pools in the world, with an extremely high density of pools. Do you think that there is still potential for a newcomer like BIOTOP?
Petrich: Of course there is potential for us. In a country that has more than10 million swimming pools, old pools often need to be overhauled and revamped.  For this we have a Converter System in our program, which allows traditional pools to be upgraded to Living Pools at surprisingly low cost and effort. We also believe that many landscape architects and designers will take our pools into their considerations in designing or redesigning gardens.

Further information: biotop-natural-pool.com

3 Questions to: Anja Dame-Matsumoto (Takagi Co., Ltd.)

The Japanese family enterprise Takagi has more than 50 years of experience in producing metal and plastic injection moulds for the industry. In 1980 they expanded their product range with watering products for home and garden. Today Takagi is the market leader in this industry in Japan. Their name stands for innovative high-quality irrigation technology.

Takagi’s first representative office in Europe was founded in 2012. Anja Dame-Matsumoto coordinates the brand development from the European Takagi Co., Ltd. office in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has lived in Japan for 26 years.

Mrs. Dame-Matsumoto, in Japan Takagi is selling faucets for bathrooms and kitchens among other things. Why do you reduce your European product range to irrigation systems for gardens, balconies and terraces?
Dame-Matsumoto: We think that our market entry in Europe will be most successful with our irrigation systems, because we see a great demand for well-functioning and high-quality tools. Gardening is a hot topic, especially in Europe. And we distinguish ourselves from other producers because we offer new and innovative solutions for the urban gardener with small spaces.

What are the main differences between the European and the Japanese market?
Dame-Matsumoto: There are fundamental differences. A large part of the inhabitants in Japan lives in densely populated areas where they have very small balconies and rarely more than 50 square metres of space available for a garden. On this limited space the Japanese people care for and water their herbs and plants very lovingly. When watering, it is very important that the soil doesn’t splash around and that the flowers and leaves of the often precious and fragile plants don’t get damaged. The hose drum is not supposed to take up much space, because there are almost no storage areas. Another factor is the climate. During summer the humidity is very high and the temperatures are around 40 degrees. No Japanese wants to be in the garden at those times. Because of their short vacations – one week maximum at a time – there is no great demand for watering during holidays. There is also a difference in the consumer base. In Japan our customers are mainly women, this is why all our tools and accessories are designed for ergonomics, easy handling and absolute waterproofness.

You prefer the specialised trades distributing your irrigation systems in Europe, why is that?
Dame-Matsumoto: We only manufacture products of very high quality with a long lifespan that are not sold because they are cheap. We offer the specialised traders a range which satisfies demanding customers. The specialised trades also appreciate our low complaint rate of 0.03 per cent in Japan. Because we are new on the European market and not that well-known yet, it is also very important for us that the customers are being well informed at the point of sale.

Further information: eu.takagi.co.jp

3 Questions to: Sonja Dümmen (Dümmen GmbH)

The Rheinberg-based company Dümmen Group is consistently expanding its sustainability strategy. In future they will supply fair trade poinsettias under the Red Fox brand to their international pot plant producers. Thus Dümmen will answer the widely shared desire for an ethical, transparent production chain. Sonja Dümmen is Head of Marketing at Dümmen GmbH and is managing the Fairtrade project.

Mrs. Dümmen, what are the reasons why the Dümmen Group will soon be selling poinsettias from your farm Red Fox Ethiopia as a Fairtrade product?
Dümmen: The Fairtrade Mark renders visible our way of working and what we represent. It records monitored working conditions and a responsible approach to plant protection and the environment. What is most important, however, is that it provides support for the people locally in Ethiopia. With Fairtrade we have the opportunity to invest 10% of the turnover directly on the ground for the benefit of the people there. The consumers who make a conscious decision to buy here support this initiative by purchasing Fairtrade products.

How can we visualise the certification process? What are the challenges?
Dümmen: All partners in the chain have to be certified, starting with the parent plant production site in Ethiopia, which is inspected by an independent certification organisation. Other links in the chain also have to be certified, however, such as the production plant in Rheinberg and the producers in Europe that raise the poinsettia cuttings. Since we run the production chain centrally, from cultivation to the finished young plant, this is entirely feasible. We only have to create transparency for third parties, which naturally always entails administrative work.

What specific advantages do you see for retailers, nurseries and last but not least for customers?
Dümmen: The advantages for the retail trade are quite clear and are to be found in the transparency of the supply chain. It can always trace Fairtrade products back to their origin and rely on the fact that reliable, inspected suppliers are behind the product. The consumer can buy responsibly and help people in Africa by buying Fairtrade. Transparency is important here too. The customer sees where the cutting comes from, but also who has raised the product to its finished state in Germany or Europe. The customer is also informed about the advantages for our partner businesses: ten percent of the revenue from the cut-tings is for the workers locally in the country of origin to use as they see fit for social purposes. The monitored production conditions create transparency and guarantee a fair process.

Further information: dummengroup.com

3 Questions to: Patty Willems (elho)

elho is a flourishing, family-owned company with over 50 years of experience in making synthetic pottery and related products. Surprise and fun are important aspects for their functional and creative products. Patty Willems is PR & CR manager.

Patty, how important is urban gardening for the elho collection?
Willems: Very important! elho introduced a total new collection around the urban way of living: The loft range, with the urban look & feel, is an enormous success thanks to the growing fan base that intensely enjoys city life and loves fund and leisure while the built in water reservoir ensures beautiful healthy plants that don’t require continual watering. You can sit back and enjoy “the urban way of life”.

Which colours do you promote this seasons?
Willems: Our new colours in the 2015 collection are:

  • Sweet softs like candy pink
  • New yellow: ochre
  • Natural browns like grainy sand
  • New pastels: light bleu and stone grey
  • Changing to soft greens; lime green

What are your most ingenious products for this summer?
Willems: We introduced our 2015 collection in September 2014 at the spoga+gafa. Our new collection will be shown on the next fair in August. At this moment we are working hard to present a great 2016 collection with lots of innovations to surprise our customers. The toppers of the 2015 collection are:

  • Green basics growtable XXL
  • B.for soft air
  • Pure cone serie
  • Balcony innovations like the Corsica easy hanger and loft flowerbridge

 Further information: elho.com