Mercabarna-flor has opened its doors. The long-awaited official opening took place on 5 October, two years after construction began. It was a huge celebration, with more than 2,000 flower-sector professionals taking part, including wholesalers, retailers, market workers and family members from across Catalonia.
The crowd enjoyed a market in full swing, with open stalls replete with produce and a full programme of activities that lasted well into the night. These included a traditional breakfast of chocolate with churros, floral demonstrations, the official opening of the Market Showcase, floral workshops and inflatable toys for the children, paella for all, a band, dancing and more.
As Mercabarna-flor wholesaler Carme Puig, from the flower company Imporflora explained: “Today we have a major opportunity to show ourselves to the world, to let people know we’re here.” The thrill at the big turnout of professionals was shared by market wholesalers. “There have been loads of people coming in, including customers, florists who hadn’t come in a long time and former wholesalers. We’re all delighted with the new centre,” said Josep Terrades, from the Flores Terrades company. Rosa Marimon, from Plantas Marimon, maintained that thanks to this event, “we can tell both our current and former customers that we’ve got a new market; one that is larger, more convenient and with more on offer”.
The wholesalers have indeed worked hard to treble the new centre’s range of products, quadruple the working hours (reaching 50 hours a week) and propose new sales initiatives to invigorate the Market.
One of the most important features of the day was the opening ceremony, presided over by Catalan premier José Montilla. He was flanked by Jordi Hereu, mayor of Barcelona; Jaume Bosch, mayor of Sant Boi de Llobregat; Lluís Tejedor, mayor of El Prat de Llobregat; Jordi William Carnes, chair of Mercabarna; and Jordi Plana, chair of the Wholesale Business Owners’ Association (AEM).
Also attending were the Catalan minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Action, Joaquim Llena; Mercasa chair Ignacio Cruz Roche and managing director of Mercabarna, Montserrat Gil de Bernabé.
Once the addresses had concluded, the authorities were encouraged to lay the first pieces of the great Mercabarna-flor mosaic: a huge rose with the date of the centre’s official opening. Then, thanks to the collaboration of everyone present, the rest of the pieces were gradually added. The ceremony concluded with the premier and mayors taking a tour of the new facilities, where they greeted wholesalers, florists and sector professionals at the Market.
A commitment to the flower sector
“With this new market we will boost a sector of major importance to our country’s economy.” With these words, Catalan premier José Montilla stressed the importance that Mercabarna-flor aspires to achieve in the wholesale flower, plant and accessory trade, both in Catalonia and Spain.
To attain this goal, a modern, functional centre has been built that trebles the area (15,000 m2 constructed) and product offer of the old market and provides new services, such as permanent training classrooms, floral art schools, the headquarters of the wholesale and retail guild associations, a restaurant-snack bar, etc.
There is everything here to satisfy the demands of a broad spectrum of customers and potential customers. Barcelona mayor Jordi Hereu likewise emphasised that “with a larger, more modern infrastructure and more added-value services, we are making a firm commitment that will enable the sector to move boldly forward”. José Montilla added, “In these difficult times, initiatives like Mercabarna-flor prove we have the capacity for delivering on successful projects and this has to give us confidence.” Mercabarna-flor has involved an investment of 24 million euro.
An emblematic building
Mercabarna-flor is a singular building inside and out. Architect Willy Müller was commissioned to design a building which in architectural terms is a departure from the traditional market image. One of its most singular features is the shell-shaped roof full of colourful stripes, which is bound to become a landmark.
The market’s interior is also special, since it has been made to meet the needs of sector professionals. “It is much more than a sales market. We now have a market made especially for us,” said Jordi Plana, chair of the AEM. In the words of Mercabarna chair Jordi William Carnes, the market’s foremost challenge has been to group three sectors under one roof (cut flowers, plants and accessories), each “with infrastructures adapted to meet display, conservation and marketing needs”. For example, there are cold-storage chambers for flowers, radiant-heat flooring for plants and display areas for the accessories area.
An unbeatable location
Built on a property belonging to Sant Boi and, in part, El Prat de Llobregat, Mercabarna-flor is located on the Castelldefels road (C-31) in a place where infrastructures merge. “Major infrastructures coexist here, such as the port and airport, the motorways and railway networks,” said José Montilla, “with large centres like this new market and venues that should continue to be maintained, such as the Baix Llobregat region’s Agropark.”
The mayor of Sant Boi of Llobregat was proud of the market’s location in “an area of major economic revitalisation”. Jordi Hereu had similar praise for the evolution of the sector: “The flower sector, which came into being in the heart of Barcelona (on the Ramblas), is now one of the most important in the metropolitan area.”
The leading accessories festival
The 25th annual Mercademostraciones show was held to coincide with the official opening of Mercabarna-flor. This was a date Spain’s leading floral art schools did not want to miss, with the Alnorte Floral Academy, Lis Floral Design Academy, Floral Art School of Andalusia, Floral Art School of Aragon, Nature Training, Rosa Valls-Formació, Smilax Floral Workshop, Floral Art School of Catalonia, Canary Island Floral Art and Design School and Spanish Floral Art School all taking part. Attendees were astonished by the spectacular floral demonstrations featuring intricately put-together works in which the spotlight was on accessories.