McQueens Flowers CEO Richard Eagleton shares his thoughts about the impact of the coronavirus on McQueens Flowers in this week’s Floristry Industry Insight. I hope you enjoy reading his insight.
You’ll also find links to the other interviews I’ve featured over the past few weeks with people working in the floristry industry, plus some other links, which I hope you find useful.
RICHARD EAGLETON | CEO, MCQUEENS FLOWERS | LONDON
What has been the impact of the coronavirus on your job?
‘The first parts of our business to be disrupted were our teams in Korea and New York, which gave me a pretty good sense of what was about to hit us all so hard in the UK. Even so, because the team in London is so much larger, the intensity and speed of activity required to stabilise the UK business certainly took its toll on the team. That means that a large part of my job has been to bring the team together in a virtual world, stay connected, and start thinking about the future and planning our return.
I don’t feel that the greatest impact has been on me personally as I continue to work, although I do miss face to face interaction with our customers and my amazing team. The biggest impact has been on the large number of the McQueens team who are currently furloughed. And one colleague who’d planned to relocate to another country, but whose plans are on hold. I spend a good portion of my week trying to stay in touch with them. And reassure them that although things will never be quite the same, we’ll always have room for talented people and I look forward to their return.
What are your plans for the next few weeks?
The way I see it is that while our customers don’t need our flowers right now, they still need our support. We’re all going through the same thing. And sharing our experiences and ideas is helping us all get through this together. I’m also using the COVID-19 gift of time to think and plan for the future. It’s definitely not a time to ‘wait and see’ – but a time to reaffirm, to reinvigorate and to reinvent ourselves.
Happily, our Korean business has already sprung back into life with more vim than ever, which gives me hope for our prospects in the UK and USA. Our events business and flower school in Seoul reopened last week – with social distancing embraced by the team. It’s amazing to reflect on just how quickly we’ve been able to get the business back up and running while keeping everyone safe. In fact, such is the volume of activity, we’ve sent a talented member of the London team to Seoul to help the Korean team keep up. It’s encouraging to know that there is life after COVID-19!
I’ve also been involved in developing a fund-raising campaign called Blooming Heroes. The aim is to raise money for the nation’s frontline heroes by promoting creative and wonderful fund-raising initiatives by some of Britain’s leading florists. We’ve just launched the website. And I’m looking forward to spending quite a bit of time on that over the next few weeks!
What advice would you give to in-house florists during these challenging times?
- Be kind. It costs nothing and always returns the favour.
- Keep an eye on the horizon. The bumpy road along the way is easier to travel if you know where you are heading.
- Stop worrying about the things you can’t control. There are plenty of things you can still do to make a difference.
- Share your passion. The power of flowers to bring joy and calm has never been more welcomed by so many.’
Flowerona Blog Posts
Business owners from different sectors of the floristry industry share how they are navigating the impact of the coronavirus:
- In-house florists | The Coronavirus 26/04/20
- Flower growers & wholesalers | The Coronavirus 19/04/20
- Florist shop & flower school owners | The Coronavirus 05/04/20
- Studio based florists & flower school owners | The Coronavirus 29/03/20
Check out the British Floristry Association website for up-to-date news from the UK government regarding the current situation. You’ll find the latest update from the government about collecting from a wholesaler and things to do to help your business during COVID-19 to grant information.
Head over to this useful COVID-19 Updates + Resources round-up by Amy at Botanical Brouhaha.
P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who’s signed up for my six week Instagram for Florists online course, which starts tomorrow! Florists and flower growers from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, France, Italy, Singapore, Kuwait, Australia, US and Canada have all signed up. If you’d like to put your name down on the Waiting List for when the course runs again, simply click on this link.