Government backed flower vendor saw record breaking valentine’s day

A 24-hour flower vending kiosk company, started by a film designer, was expecting sales to bloom over Valentine’s Day weekend, with £2,200 worth of roses from just one outlet.

Rockflower, was founded two years ago by Andrew McAlpine with the help of a £5,000 Government-backed Start Up Loan. The business is a retail kiosk and a fresh flower vending machine based at London Blackfriars tube station.

Rockflower anticipates its vending sales to increase sixfold over Valentine’s weekend, as the capital’s commuters are expected to purchase dozens upon dozens of roses.

Andrew expects turnover to increase by 20 per cent over the coming year. He set up the first Rockflower kiosk and vending machine after feeling frustrated by the non availability of bouquets of flowers 24/7.

Noting that the Blackfriars vending machine consistently outsells the retail kiosk, Andrew plans to launch three more standalone vending only machines in underground stations as part of his expansion plans in the next six months.

He originally set up the company with help from Start Up Loans, the Government-backed scheme which provides low-interest personal loans, free mentoring and support for new and early-stage businesses.

Funding from the scheme was used for initial set up costs, including the purchase and delivery of high quality flowers from the Netherlands. As part of the package, Andrew also received expert guidance from a mentor on sales, branding and restocking.

Andrew McAlpine, founder of Rockflower, said: “I had the initial idea for Rockflower around 20 years ago, but a lack of access to funding and expert guidance was a stumbling block. This is why Start Up Loans was so influential in enabling me to finally launch the business. The funding was vital to get the model up and running, but I couldn’t have done it without the support that my mentor provided throughout the entire process.

“Valentine’s Day is one of the most exhilarating days of the year for any florist, and a real test of the business’ capability to meet demand. Even more so for us, given that we run 24 hours a day. We fully anticipate to be rushed off our feet on Saturday and Sunday, but we are ready and raring to go.”

Tim Sawyer, CEO of Start Up Loans Company, said: “Rockflower is a great example of an exciting and innovative business model that we’ve been able to help get off the ground. Seeing it spring to life and experience great success during Valentine’s Day is a testament to Andrew’s dedication to his business.

“There are thousands of success stories like Rockflower who’ve managed to turn their business ideas into reality with a Start Up Loan. We want everyone thinking of starting up a business to know that help is out there.”

Anna Soubry, Business Minister at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, said: “There will be many happy couples this year thanks to Rockflower’s new business and the essential finance and support from Start Up Loans. This company is a great example of British innovation and Government is committed to supporting that as it drives the economy and creates jobs.

“As Rockflower shows the Start Up Loans scheme continues to deliver results and help aspiring business ideas bloom.”

Since 2012, Start Up Loans has helped back 35,000 businesses, providing £192m of funding and helping create 42,000 jobs up to December 2015.