The Dutch Horticulture Partnership became an investment partnership

After two years of preparation, the launch of the Horticope Investment Cooperative is here. The festival kicks off on December 1. As a matter of course, the first members’ participation will also be registered soon, ending the transfer of Horticope from the Traditional Fruit and Fruit Cooperative to the Fiction Investment Cooperative. Chief Executive Officer Stephen van Nuewen Huezen outlines the steps taken and plans for the future this year.


Steven van Nieuwenhuijzen

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Steven has been in the midst of the transformation process since January 1, 2021, when he became CEO of Horticope. As a business man and as a ‘change manager’ in that field, he took to the water like a fish. Prior to starting Horticope, he held management positions in the Travel and Puppetry Sector and most recently in the Horticulture Sector in the Flower Business Group. There, his job was to develop a new strategy. “I involved the family in the process and when I finally left, a family member took over.”

The question arises as to whether Stephen is a real person in horticulture because of his place in the garden. He laughs. “I have never heard of that, but it has helped me to make great strides in horticulture. I can see the parallels between here and here in my horticultural work. That relationship is temporarily weakened by the cessation of wholesale activities, but in this transition, we want to strengthen that relationship again.

During the meeting, Stephen emphasized the importance of understanding the position of the members. “This was very challenging, because the growers were very far away from the cooperative after many transactions with the wholesalers. Moreover, the membership base is very diverse and there are more than four hundred.”

Flywheel effect
Since his appointment on January 1, 2021, Steven has visited important growers and businesses, but has been involved with the transition team in Horticope, as well as many administrative and financial technical issues. “It involves a lot of what we do. It has never been done before in horticulture, but there are a few examples outside of gardening.”

One of the most important and perhaps exhausting points was the naming of the members already in the horticulture. “We are now making these shares more transparent as an investment partnership. Each member will soon realize how big their share is and what it will bring. In this way we are ensuring the participation of its members.

In horticulture, they like to talk about the effects of flying tires. “The members, the developer, will soon be buying from companies that everyone participates in as investment cooperatives.

Division
It sounds logical, but it was before much thought. One of the things to keep in mind is whether the members will receive a discount if they are buying from Horticop participant companies. No, (still) is the answer, says Stephen. However, we urge companies in the horticultural group to make their offerings as attractive as possible. That may be as simple as a discount, but it does just as well as the benefits of getting new products or knowledge in the first place. On the contrary, if the situation is the same, we ask the members to choose a product from our participating companies.

Members of the Cooperative will soon receive an annual dividend. However, it will be some time before the first partition is paid. Companies usually pay dividends every year. For the first time in 2023, after all the annual accounts have been prepared.

“But in the short term, we would like to inform its members that we are working together in addition to financial matters. We are fully committed to this. We need to know what is going on in the middle, and we want to start organizing.


Inspiration Day 2018

Invest
As an investment partnership, Horticope is expected to expand its presence in existing companies or participate in new companies as seen in recent years. “We will be happy for companies because we will bring potential customers with us. This is what sets us apart from other investment players.

During the transition period, investment parties’ interest in horticulture partners has already increased, Stephen noted. “They indicate in advance that they want to invest in companies with us, because we bring to the table the benefits mentioned above. Such parties sometimes come on their own initiative, but sometimes they come through the manufacturers or companies we work with.

Now, it is not the case that Horticope suddenly starts investing randomly. “No, we will not be locusts. We will look at it for a long time, especially because of the needs of our members. Growers know better than anyone that innovation and renewal will take time.”

Business
One more technical point of contention: Is the engagement business discussed last year really possible? “Yes,” Steven confirms. “It is possible to trade in participation, but not from the beginning. For business, we have to create a platform where we are not a party. We want to bring this out in a year or two. First, we want to. Get off to a good start. A lot has changed.”

In the near future, it will be possible to increase or decrease the number of members, and of course, new members can join. “We are now sharing the cake with our existing members, but there is definitely room for growth. New members can buy participation or raise their own capital to make the pie bigger.”

New entrants can buy non-perishable active participants, for example. “This year the opportunity has come. You can think of former farmers who have invested in this way, who have not grown crops. That would be great, and we will offer this opportunity soon. It has a lot of international involvement. ”These are in large numbers in Belgium and Germany. We do not identify additional international members.


Substrate manufacturer Lensley is one of the companies in the horticultural group.

When we talk about international participation, is there any change in this process? Last year, Chairman Joris Elsgeest announced his intention to review the portfolio of companies. “No, that is not the case with the changes we have discussed so far (Agroson launch, Alflora sales, large participation in Smartcoat and HortAmericas). “It’s basically the same here in the Netherlands, not just selling wholesale but also adjusting the structure of the company internally.”


Horticop Technical Services has developed in recent years as a specialist in the construction, installation, replacement or optimization of water-borne, electric, lighting and climate installations.

The horticulture itself has almost completed that process. An important chapter. “And thanks to the new role, I expect more to follow.”

For more information:
David Brand
Horticulture
info@horticoop.nl
www.horticoop.nl

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