From Barrow-Boy to Royal Warrant Holder -
Smith & Green
Tucked away in New Covent Garden Flower
Market are the offices of Smith & Green,
holders of the prestigious Royal Warrant to
Her Majesty the Queen, suppliers of
Peter Green is
thrilled with the accolade: "It is a real
honour. The Royal Warrant is only awarded to
select companies who have proven to be
extremely reliable, and to have consistently
offered good quality product and outstanding
service to the Royal household for over 5
years. Not bad for an old punk rocker!"
Green first started out in the Flower Market
straight from school at the tender age of
16. It was meant to be a 1 year stint before
he moved across to his dad's business in the
Fruit & Veg Market, but by then Peter had
caught the flower bug. "If you get it, you
are here for life. You can't imagine working
elsewhere!" laughs Peter.
for William Newton & Sons preparing and
packaging order boxes for despatch and for
the porters, Peter moved on to J Foster,
preparing 'Country Orders', a form of
Personal Shopper service for florists
nationwide. Customers would send through
their shopping lists to J Foster at the
Flower Market, who would source the stock
from traders around the Flower Market,
package it and dispatch it by a same-day
train delivery service all over the country.
next move was to A Chapman Flowers, another Country
Orders specialist, where he took a step up to the role
of buyer. "You have a consolidated list, but as you are
buying, you are constantly thinking about what each
individual customer likes and dislikes. You get to know
what they want and expect over time. If you get it
right, they learn to rely on you and trust your
judgement, and so you build up a strong relationship
based on trust."
In 1991, Peter was to put the strength of these business
relationships to the test, by setting up in business,
aged 31, together with friend and colleague Billy Smith
as Smith & Green.
country was in the middle of a recession," says Peter,
"and people thought we were mad to choose that time to
go it alone. But after a slow first year, we were able
to grow the business really, really well. People trust
you and come to rely on you. They stick with you if you
time for the business came in 2004, when British Rail
stopped the Red Star service for rail deliveries
critically damaging their Country Orders business.
Customers we had served for 20 years were lost within 2
months," explains Peter.
Green needed to re-focus urgently, and worked hard to
expand their customer base such that today, their client
list reads like an exclusive directory of top West End
hotels and restaurants.
around this time that we picked up our first pieces of
business for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle,"
recalls Peter. "The Palace florists tested us out on
smaller bits and pieces at first until over time we
became their major wholesale flower supplier. It is a
tremendous honour to have the Royal Warrant. It is the
ultimate stamp of approval for our work."
what's next for Smith & Green?
"Billy retired last year, and I have a new business
partner, Paul Winyard. Paul has been doing Country
Orders for almost as long as I have," says Peter. "His
expertise will be a great complement to mine, and will
ensure that I can have the occasional day off, and
perhaps even a holiday! knowing that my customers are in
How do you get Smith & Green to work for you? "We do
help people with one-off wedding orders or event
flowers, but when it comes to new and regular customers,
we are primarily looking to work with top end florists
who want to work with top quality flowers.
want the business to grow too big. To me, it,s really
important to be able to be reliable above all else. The
whole point of our business is the personal service: I
buy it, I pull it out, and I prepare it . You have to be
able to keep your eye on the ball, keep the overview and
never let people down..