Tough winter sees flower prices 'skyrocket'

A large number of Auckland florists say they've experienced the worst winter in recent memory when it comes to sales.

Some say they've had to increase their prices because what they're paying for flowers at auctions has "skyrocketed".

West Auckland florist Raywin Kelly believes she's paying about 15-20 percent more.

She believes that's because of a lack of competition amongst the flower auction houses.

Earlier this year United Flower Growers purchased Turners and Growers' FloraMax.

That's left local florists with only one choice of auction house.

"We've probably got 40-50 more buyers at that one auction, a lot of them are bigger buyers so they can afford to buy high," says Ms Kelly.

She says she's had to reduce her percentage mark-up as a result.

"You know for staff it's disheartening, for the owners of the shops it's disheartening and in this kind of atmosphere we can't grow our business at all. We're actually minimising, we're shrinking  it's just getting harder and harder to make a living."

Bronwen Hughes has been a florist for 17 years and has never seen "such expensive prices".

"I can't afford to reduce my margins because I already work on a lower margin," she says.

"I think there's already one or two florists who have closed their doors, that's hearsay. But there will be some that can't continue, can't afford to."

The Commerce Commission says it's now investigating United Flower Growers' (UFG) purchase of Turners and Growers' FloraMax flower auction business.

"UFG and Turners did not seek clearance from the Commission for this transaction and we are investigating whether it raises any competition issues," a Commission spokesperson says.