Microflor attracts partner to accelerate growth

Oaklins served as exclusive advisor to Microflor, a global top 3 player in breeding orchids, in attracting a new partner with the Benelux Private Equity firm Smile Invest. Smile Invest obtains a substantial minority stake in Microflor alongside the family Floré, who remains the majority shareholder.

The case

Microflor is active in breeding and propagation of tropical plants with a focus on Phalaenopsis orchids. Over the past 30 years, Microflor has grown from a small family-owned company into a global top 3 player in breeding, propagation and acclimatization of orchids, the largest ornamental plant variety in the world.

The company has unique expertise in in-vitro propagation and breeding technologies that resulted in an extensive proprietary plant genetics portfolio of over 160 commercially available varieties and over 1,000 varieties under development. Microflor is headquartered in Lochristi, Belgium, and operates state-of-the-art labs and production facilities in Belgium and Slovakia from which it delivers young plants across Europe and the Americas.

We chose Oaklins as our corporate finance advisor because they have the most experience in the horticulture sector. At the same time they have local teams in Belgium and the Netherlands. By operating as one team, they offered us the best of both worlds.  Febe Floré, Managing Director of Microflor

During recent years, Microflor has heavily invested in R&D techniques, infrastructure and people, in order to prepare the company for further growth. In addition, Microflor has put a lot of effort in streamlining its operations. The management of the company is convinced it now has the right structure and people in place to realize its ambitious strategy and start a next growth phase.

Microflor chose Oaklins as its exclusive M&A advisor. Oaklins has a proven track record in the horticulture sector and the flexibility to ensure that local expertise reaches global potential. Febe Floré, Managing Director of Microflor: “We chose Oaklins to assist us in this project. They are the most experienced corporate finance advisor in the horticulture sector and at the same time have local and experienced teams in Belgium and

the Netherlands. By operating as one team, they offered us the best of both worlds.”

Changing market dynamics

The horticulture market is changing considerably driven by trends such as higher technology standards, economies of scale triggering consolidation, shift to mass-retail sales channels, and increasing demand from emerging markets. These trends, which require further professionalization of the sector, are especially visible in the European orchid market, where a maturing market has resulted in overcapacity. All these changes give market leaders the opportunity to further distinguish themselves from the smaller players and/or less professionalized players. Microflor has developed an ambitious growth strategy to benefit from the changing market environment.

Sector expertise and the right positioning makes all the difference

Various options were studied on how to best realize this growth strategy. After careful consideration, it was decided that attracting a strong partner that can accelerate the realization of Microflor’s strategy was the preferred option.

In a changing market, Microflor was brought into the luxury position to choose between a number of partners with the right vision and cultural fit. Thomas Roelens, Co-Head of M&A of Oaklins' team in Belgium 

Thomas Roelens, Co-Head of M&A of Oaklins’ team in Belgium comments: “We were able to position Microflor as an attractive investment opportunity in a changing market, which triggered strong interest from both strategic and financial parties. This brought our client into the luxury position that they could carefully choose between a well-selected number of partners with the right vision and cultural fit.”

Febe Floré, Managing Director of Microflor adds: “After exploring various scenarios together with our advisor Oaklins, Smile Invest was selected as the preferred partner and new minority shareholder in Microflor. Based on their entrepreneurial spirit, a focus on long term value creation, an experienced team and a good fit with Microflor’s family values, Smile Invest is a perfect match for Microflor to realize our goals. With Smile Invest, Microflor now has the experience on board to actively pursue acquisition opportunities and leverage its expertise in in-vitro propagation and breeding technology.”

Frank de Hek, Head of Oaklins’ global horticulture team, complements: “With our in-depth knowledge on horticulture market dynamics, we had true added value in Microflor’s decision-making process on how to realize its strategic goals.”

Oaklins' people

Our deal teams consist of trusted advisors with an entrepreneurial mindset who combine global industry expertise with local presence.

Frank de hek oaklins netherlands
Frank de Hek Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Partner
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Casper oude essink
Casper Oude Essink Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Senior Associate
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Felix snoeck henkemans
Felix Snoeck Henkemans Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Analyst
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Thomas roelens 0  1
Thomas Roelens Brussels, Belgium
Director
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Cedric michils
Cedric Michils Brussels, Belgium
Senior Associate
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Tibo steen
Tibo Steen Brussels, Belgium
Associate
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Other transactions in horticulture

Oaklins has been involved in a large number of merger & acquisition transactions in the horticulture sector. Other transactions, among many others, include:

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