French discount florist plans to take on grocers with up to 50 shops

French florist Monceau Fleurs is poised to launch its first store in the UK tomorrow, with plans to roll out 50 stores in the next five years.

David Belhassen, the entrepreneur behind French bakery Paul, is spearheading the UK launch as part of a joint venture with Monceau Fleurs, France’s leading florist. Belhassen said the group is launching now in an attempt to grab some of the grocers’ soaring market share, which represents more than 60 per cent of UK flower sales.

Belhassen said the retailer will be offering “the best flowers at cheap prices”. Roses will start from 40p or 50p a stem. He said Monceau Fleurs can supply flowers at such low prices because it has cut out the middlemen. It is the only florist in the world with its own broker at the flower equivalent of the stock exchange, in Holland. Belhassen added that the group intends to launch online in the next two years.

Monceau Fleur has 125 shops in France, with an annual turnover of €120 million (£83.9 million) – up from just €5 million (£3.5 million) in 1999. The UK florist market is the largest in Europe after Germany.