24 April 2016
You thought Garden Connect was a new kid on the block? No way! Back in 2002 the predecessor of Garden Connect, Bratpack, was established. In February 2016 Garden Connect was therefore already 14 years old – and still going strong.
On 6 February 2002, Bratpack was founded by Frank de Lange, Edwin Meijer and Peter Hut. Three friends from a small town near Amsterdam, Zwanenburg, who started building a website for the local soccer club NAS. After that, the first enquiries came from friends and relatives who needed a website. As you may expect all the work was done from their bedrooms.
In 2003 garden centre buying group Tuinspectrum (300+ centres) knocked on the door and the first steps in the garden industry were taken. After the merger of Tuinspectrum with GroenRijk to the still existing Garden Retail Services group Bratpack could start to conquer the garden industry in their own way.
From 2006, it went fast: the service was expanded to webshops and other online marketing services. Despite the other years in the industry from 2010, the company was able to grow rapidly. Not only in the Netherlands but also internationally: as Flemish garden centres were happy with the services provided why wouldn’t other centres be?
At that time, a joint venture was born called QV Web Services with former garden centre owners Ian Lucas and Eimert de Graaff. After two years of close cooperation, it was clear QV had to take the next step and Bratpack acquired all shares of the company. For these ambitions the company, Bratpack was cut into three parts: Garden Connect NL for the Dutch and Belgian markets and Garden Connect UK operating from Luton for the British and Irish markets. All other customers are still serviced by Bratpack.
Since 2012 larger independent garden centres also find their way to Zwanenburg and Luton. The GroenRijk marketing group of 35 centres, the Coppelmans family with their 9 centres in the south of the Netherlands, Home & Garden Group with 8 centres and 3 webshops, the impressive Belgian centre Famiflora, 11 Irish garden centres, award winning Polhill garden centre and many, many more.
At the end of 2015, over 250 garden centres in five countries made use of the services of Garden Connect: large and small! And Bratpack? The company with which it began in 2002 is still operating from Zwanenburg as is Garden Connect NL. Internally, there is also little difference between Garden Connect and Bratpack: knowledge sharing and services where possible developed for all three companies. Bratpack grows still and has a wide variety of customers: from a group of 29 wellness resorts to charities like Save the Children to a national chain of 250 drugstores.
So Garden Connect is not a shining startup - sorry! – but as the first day in 2002, we’ve got our boots on the ground and a fresh mind in regards to online marketing!