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Entrepreneurs get creative to stay afloat

Handcrafted flowers from recycled materials open new business opportunities.

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Gulf News

Dubai: In the wake of the global recession, businesses must actively seek ways to remain competitive or to survive. For the flower business, says entrepreneur June Cabarles, a little bit of creativity has certainly helped make a difference.

"In the first quarter of 2009, we felt a drop in sales of fresh flowers," says Cabarles, managing director of Cabarles Flowers, a Dubai flower shop.

He said sales dropped by up to 30 per cent early this year, forcing him to cut the working hours of his staff. He also cut the monthly volume of imports by 50 per cent since fresh flowers are perishable.

He noted that he still gets the same number of customers, but their spending habits have changed. "We have the same number of clients but most of them cut their budget by half. Cut flowers are a lovely gift and decoration and it has always been part of the Arab culture. People may stop buying jewellery; flowers, on the other hand, are relatively inexpensive so most of our clients still prefer flowers, says Cabarles.

Apart from various marketing strategies such as maintaining competitive prices and giving discounts to regular clients, Cabarles has also ventured into handcrafted flowers in an attempt to boost sales.

Their main market for the handcrafted flowers are hotels and offices that have dramatically cut their flower budgets by 50 per cent.

The handcrafted flowers are non-perishables and are just as beautiful as the fresh flowers, making them more attractive to budget-conscious customers.

Aside from the great savings and value for money, producing handcrafted flowers has also helped the company optimise the value of recycling and enhanced the creativity of the staff.

The handcrafted flowers are made of squash seeds, cinnamon, almonds, dried roses, shells of peanuts, pistachio nuts and other materials that would otherwise be thrown away.

The materials for handcrafted flowers are cheaper and can be bought locally. We also help our staff to produce unique and original styles of flowers and most especially meet the tightened budget of our clients," Cabarles said. For example, one stem of rose will cost Dh10 but will only last for five days. If you will buy a handcrafted flower of the same price or even lower, the same product can last a year or even more. The hotels or offices can save up to 80 per cent and still have the same beautiful decorations until the economy picks up again."

Cabarles says he has been in the business for seven years but has never seen it this bad. He says his company is offering better deals through cheaper alternatives to fit the budget of his customers. With my seven years in the flower industry, business has never been this bad. People are really tightening their budgets and really look for the best deals. That is why we try to be creative by giving people alternatives that offer true value for their money, he said.Lilies Locally produced in the UAE
Commonly used in: Conferences and exhibitions

Cymbidium Imported from: Asian countries
Commonly used in: Hotels

Roses Imported from: Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador Commonly used in: Hotels and weddings