By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas’ oldest florist is looking to expand its weddings and event planning operation to 50 per cent of its overall business via its JW Events division, a company executive telling Tribune Business it had seen a 10 per cent increase in its sales year-over-year.
“Like everyone else, business has been slow. Our sales, however, were up about 10 per cent over the previous year and that’s pretty significant,”said Al Collie, Nassau Florist’s general manager.
The company is poised to relocate to the 6,000 square foot Villa Flora, at Victoria Avenue and Dowdswell Street, on April 1 to facilitate its business expansion and long-term cost cutting plan.
Mr Collie said: “We already are involved with weddings here in the Bahamas, being a florist. What we wish to do is expand into what’s called destination management, which includes destination weddings.
“We want, as a bigger part of our business, destination weddings and destination events, period. That’s the reason for the entire second floor of the new location, so we have conference rooms and meeting space for potential brides and other persons interested in planning events and parties here in the Bahamas, or if they are sending people here to the Bahamas on an inceptive tour.
“We’re interested in being more a part of that market. We already do a lot of major events; for instance the Red Cross Ball. People see us as a florist and now they will see us as a florist and events manager. What we are doing is rebranding a part of our business. We have added a division to our business, JW Events.”
Mr Collie added: “Right now, I would say weddings and events are about 20-30 per cent of our business. We are looking for wedding and events being a much bigger and significant part, minimally being 50 per cent of our business.”
Mr Collie said the relocation would create significant costs savings for the company in the long term. “Until the [existing location] is sold there won’t be any immediate cost savings, because we would be carrying the two properties,” he explained.
“When the current property is sold we are looking at a minimum reduction of 20-30 per cent in costs. We would be taking away things like insurance, electricity bills and other amenities. The primary driver of costs are things like property tax and insurance, and they would be gone.”
Villa Flora, which was renovated several years ago, has the latest in energy efficiency, ommunications, security, and computer networking technology, as well as retail, office, conference room, storage space and parking directly on the property and across the street.
Mr Collie said the 60 year-old company, which has been under the ownership of Jim Whitehead for the past two decades, currently employs 14 persons and would be looking to add at least two more staff this year.
Nassau Florists’ current Shirley Street location is on the market for $600,000. “It’s on the market for sale at the moment. We may also be interested in continuing to rent this location out going forward for a period of several year even after we have sold it,” said Mr Collie.