MEET Tim Woodhouse, the man who loves to put flowers through a regime that would, apparently, make the SAS break into a sweat.
Bradford-based Morrisons is applying science to ensure flowers delivered by its new Flowerworld.co.uk bouquet service arrive in tip top condition.
Mr Woodhouse, who is the flower manager at Morrisons Flowerworld, goes to extreme lengths to “train” the 260 million blooms that pass through Flowerworld’s 17.5-acre site every year.
For example, a small sample of every batch is stress-tested in what Morrisons describes as a flower gym, in air conditioning chambers “akin to those used by the SAS”.
Mr Woodhouse also suspends flowers that can only be grown overseas in a state of ‘sleep’ while in transit, so they can maintain their freshness.
A spokesman said: “By cooling the plants to just below 6C, life processes are temporarily slowed with flowers ‘woken up’ on arrival, warmed and fed.”
Morrisons is also developing sophisticated flower diets to give flowers the nutrition to survive for as long as possible.
The supermarket chain is also working to eliminate pests from flower crops by biological control. It is developing natural eco-systems, instead of using pesticides.
Mr Woodhouse is a botanist with a family history in flowers and plants stretching back generations.
He handles more than five million flowers a week with his team at the family business, which is now part of Morrisons.
He also nurtures one acre of wildflower habitats across the Derby site; working with bee conservation project Plan Bee to maintain bee populations in the region.
Mr Woodhouse forecasts what flowers customers want to buy after taking expert advice from celebrity florists, the fashion industry and home decor trend makers. He then selects seeds for flowers that may take up to two years to grow.
Morrisons acquired Flowerworld in 2011, after working with Mr Woodhouse and his team for almost 20 years.
HOLLYWOOD star Catherine Zeta Jones entrusted her baby’s safety to Silver Cross, a Yorkshire firm known as the ‘Bentley of pram-makers’. The nursery company is celebrating its 140th anniversary this summer.
Over the decades, some of the world’s most famous offspring have been passengers in a Silver Cross pram, which shows that Yorkshire is home to plenty of world-leading brands.
The Silver Cross story started in 1877 when William Wilson wheeled out the world’s first ‘baby carriage’ from his Yorkshire workshop in Leeds.
He was introducing an idea that would change parenting forever.
More than 10 million babies have enjoyed their first views of the world from the comfort and safety of a Silver Cross pram.
Nick Paxton, the Silver Cross chief executive, said: “Silver Cross has been at the forefront of product development over the years with our designs driven from consumer feedback and the needs of parents and babies.
“We have a saying here at Silver Cross: There is no secret to making the world’s finest prams. Just take 140 years of experience and add the finest materials; the rest is easy.
“I am proud to be part of a company which prides itself on providing children with the best start in life.
“This commitment to beautifully functional and aspirational nursery products puts Silver Cross on the map as a great British brand.”
Heritage prams are still hand finished at the factory in Keighley, which is believed to be the last remaining pram factory in the UK.
The company has also moved with the times, including a collaboration with Aston Martin which resulted in a limited edition travel system, which became one of the most sought after prams in the world.