Knowing how to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances has been one of the keys to the success of Corma SCCL, since its constitution in 1981. The latest advances are the consequence of new strategies and work dynamics, implemented since the entry of the new Directive four years ago. The truth is that the company exceeded the record figure of 30 million euros in turnover in 2021. Flormarket Global interviewed Alex Fernandez, commercial and marketing director of Corma, to find out the latest news about this ornamental plant cooperative located in Maresme (Barcelona). In these pages, a summary of our visit to the central facilities in Premià de Dalt.

Alex, to what extent is it necessary for a company or, in your case, a producer cooperative, to turn around the business model with which it has been working for years?

“From its start, Corma has planned his different actions with a clearly business and future key. Each team and each time brought with it some specific projects. Mario Herreros, and myself, have many years of experience in other sectors, mainly in channels such as large distribution, which we are now applying in the green sector.”
“On the one hand, we have the Cooperative linked to the production of its members and suppliers and, on the other hand, the trading company Corma; for both, we are implementing innovative strategies that adapt to the needs of our clients. These multi-channel experiences have been decisive in implementing work dynamics with a view to meeting our short- and medium-term objectives.”

So let’s talk about this most recent stage of Corma, SCCL, where can we start?

“We would like to highlight that we are one of the forerunners of ACPO – Association of Ornamental Plant
Traders, which was born with the purpose of joining forces, when it comes to promoting Green and encouraging consumption, while being a benchmark in the sector. Corma offers a global service: We have our own production, sales network and logistics platform. We want to be integrators of the entire Green product and, for this, it is necessary to face a change in the business model and vision. These strategies make it possible to create alliances with other producers and different components of the sector. The final objective is to increase the volume of business and be a benchmark in the commercialization of ornamental plants.”

To what extent do these synergies between different links in the value chain help in achieving objectives?
“We must improve from the inside and also from the outside. Throughout its history, the cooperative has seen how the different structures, productive, tech-nical and marketing, management and finances, have been consolidated.”
“Despite the extensive experience of the partners in cultivation, as well as that of collaborating producers who help to have a very broad portfolio, the idea is to continue growing and reinforcing our position as specialists in all types of plants. “We work closely with the breeders of new varieties, we share knowledge to achieve the best result of cultivation in each partner’s home and thus we can achieve an attractive final product that attracts the attention of the final buyer.”
“In addition to stengthening de links breeder-producer and the traditional channels, work is being done to
open up unconventional alternative markets, such as the online professional, among others.

Is the product itself losing importance, to make way for other values? How are the company’s new strategies translated into the plant itself?

“Quality is taken for granted when you want to have a name. But every day more, the process is supported by investments in technology R & D & i, by the important support of the marketing teams and by other brand
positioning actions, environmental commitment and other factors.”
“At Corma we continue on creating collections of plants that offer added value to the client and help them to simplify concepts in their relationship with the final buyer. We are talking about attractive collections to access gardens, wholesalers, gardening companies (public and private), florists, landscaping companies or modern channels. The collections help to position the Corma brand. In the future, actions are planned so that these collections leave their mark on the end customer, for which the partners are already making investments.”
“In the Spanish market, we can say that we are a global supplier that integrates Green products all year round, from our partners and also from allied national and international producers. Spain consumes more trees and different bush formats every day, in larger formats than it was usual before. In this last stage, we are promoting sales to other European countries, especially seasonal flower plants. Exports have reached 35% of sales and continue to rise.”

A leadership project requires innovative and impactful actions. In this last stage, is there one that could stand out from the rest?

“Last year, we started a project that uses the ‘blockchain’ technology, which allows the custody of non- encryptable information, with a view to improving traceability. It is a project already used in the food sector, although it is very innovative and avant-garde within the ornamental sector.”
“The resulting computer system allows the traceability of the product, from the reproductive plant material itself, through the cultivation and the entire sales chain to the delivery of the plant. It is a guarantee that the entire value chain is guarded by this computer system and complies with the established requirements. We think it is a true project of leadership and innovation.”

What are the main future challenges?

“One of the company’s next goals is the digitization of the company’s own structure and that of its partners. On the other hand, we must face challenges of a more social nature, related to sustainability projects, reduction of plastic consumption, compliance with the SDGs (Social development goals and targets) and the search for a circular economy, etcetera. Working with alternative sales channels requires this type of commitment, hence our commitment to implement the MPS and Global GAP certification within two to three years. We are negotiating with different companies to incorporate specialized electric vehicles, with a view to being able to deliver plants with them for the 2022-23
campaign to florists in urban areas of Madrid and Barcelona.”
And finally, photovoltaic alternatives for offices and cash & carry are under study. The ultimate goal is to become a 100% green cooperative.”