James Finlay exits flower business with sale of Kericho farm

Finlay Flowers

Some of the houses that were vacated by former employees of Finlay Flowers after the company halted its operations. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NMG

Photo credit: Joseph Openda | Nation Media Group

Multinational firm James Finlay Kenya has sold its Kericho-based flower farm to Black Tulip Group for an undisclosed amount to focus on its tea and coffee business.

The sale will see workers at the Lemotit farm in Londiani, Kipkelion East, which produces roses and cut flowers for the United Kingdom and European markets, declared redundant.

“The sale of Lemotit farm marks the end of Finlay’s restructuring to concentrate fully on the beverage market,” said Stephen Scott, Finlay Flowers general manager.

Black Tulip is expected to take over the business in six months after the sale received regulatory nods.

The James Finlay Kenya Managing Director, Simeon Hutchinson, said the employees would keep their jobs during the transition period.

“The terms and condition of employment, and the employment contracts of all Lemotit employees will be terminated on account of redundancy, and Finlays will pay relevant dues to the affected employees,” said Mr Hutchinson.

Black Tulip owns Golden Tulip and Laurel farms in Ol Kalau, Tulaga and Sunfloritech farms in Naivasha, Batian in Timau, and Eco Roses in Limuru and Salgaa.

Its chief executive officer Mohan Choudhery said the acquisition of Finlay Flowers is part of its expansion strategy.

He said detailed discussions would take place in the coming weeks with union representatives, employees and company representatives on the transition details.

Finlay had earlier closed down two flower farms – Chemire and Tarakwet.

“We shut down operations in the two farms as we were unable to compete with other players in our traditional markets in Europe. A high labour cost was one of the contributing factors, and we could not operate and break-even,” said Mr Hutchinson in a recent interview.

The farms were shut down earlier than had been notified, which led to complaints by workers that they had been arbitrarily fired.

“We gave adequate notices as provided for in law and have since paid workers their dues. It is not true that they were summarily dismissed as the record is there for scrutiny,” said Mr Hutchinson.

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