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Late starter turns dream into retail reality

Rachel Peers, who owns La Beau Fleurs in Warrington, Cheshire admits she was a late starter. Yes, she had always wanted to be a florist but as she worked her way up the corporate ladder somehow the time was never right.

All that changed when she reached the big 4-0 and she decided to go to college, retrain and then set up her own business from home. Seven years later she’s made the leap from studio to retail and LOVES it!!

James Crompton caught up with Rachel to find out why a career change has been so brilliant!

How did it all start?

I was a late starter in the wonderful world of Floristry. I’d worked as a senior director in financial services for most of my career, having left school at 16, I always longed to be a florist, but it just never seemed like the right time, there was always something else going on in my life.

I took the plunge and decided to enrol at college 24 years later to retrain as a florist at the age of 40 and I’ve never looked back.

7 years on, I’ve been able to put the experience of many years of running multi-million-pound businesses to good use on running my own little piece of heaven.

How have you found the switch from studio to retail? I know it’s early days but what are the biggest differences you’ve noticed?

Having worked alone out of a purpose-built studio for 7 years focusing completely on weddings and events, I expanded into retail in November 2021. I can’t tell you how much I love it. I adore the variety of it, I thrive on the fast pace that retail demands of you and I love that I now have a gorgeous team, so I’m not lonely anymore!

Seeing customers every day is such a treat, we’re starting to notice our regulars who are in every week or so but every single day we have new faces coming in too and I just love that feeling.

I guess in terms of changes: the buying is different, more regular and different items, I’m desperately trying to incorporate new flower choices into our range and broaden my knowledge of the retail market. We stock an enormous range of plants so I’m working hard on expanding my knowledge in this area too. We also have a range of gifts including our own hand made soy candle ranges and home styling products.

How has the reaction been to your opening in your local town? I bet your customers have loved having a shop to walk in to!

It’s been really lovely. It’s helped enormously by the fact that I have lived within 2 minutes of the shop all my life. I know and love the community, which has helped me to understand what our client base is likely to want to buy. I do get it wrong sometimes, and this is helpful to learn what to stock more of and what to pull back on.

We pride ourselves on strong company values, we display this on a board as people walk into the shop and I guess the most important one is ‘Community is at our core.’ Staff are trained to give every customer a great, personal shopping experience so that not only do they leave happy and come back to us, but they leave and talk highly of us to at least one other person.

Talk me through the balance between weddings and retail work now that you’re shop based. Is it something you’re finding challenging? Are you having to scale back on to cope with the other?

In the short term as our retail business develops, weddings will remain the largest part of our business, certainly in terms of turnover. Weddings and retail trade financially as separate businesses and I find I’m either working with my retail head on or working with my wedding head on.

Our average wedding client spend is £3,000 so spreading the wedding workload between 3 of us rather than just me is absolute heaven. ‘Wedding overwhelm’ was a regular experience, knowing it was all on me. Now the pure joy of weddings is back as we work through everything together as a team.

Scaling back is not an option for me, scaling up is definitely at the front of my mind.

We’ve just taken on a commission from Manchester City Co, who organise the Manchester Flower Show. As a previous ‘Best in Show’ winner, we were approached and even though we have 7 weddings that first week in June 2022 - we were able to say yes!

I suspect this time last year I would have to have declined due to resourcing, so that’s a really nice example of how we’re going to be able to take on more opportunities and continue to grow as a team.

What was the decision-making process when you decided to go bricks and mortar? Is it something you’ve wanted to do for a long time? How did you narrow down the search for a shop and how did you design the layout?

I’d always loved the idea of having a shop, but always thought it was for other people and not for me, that was until my little shop became available for rent!

The shop is 2 minutes away from where I grew up in one direction and 2 minutes in the opposite direction to where I live now, I had my very first job in this very shop as a 16-year-old and had always longed for it to become available.

The stars aligned and after a very lengthy and highly competitive application process, I finally got my hands on the keys in July 2021 and we spent the next 4 months fitting it out in-between weddings!

Now that you’re in and have a few months of trading under your belt, is there anything you’d change?

I think any changes have been manageable and more tweaks. The layout needed enhancing further once we moved in, I visualised what the space looked like as a florist shop and from there we started to make better use of the space.

The opening hours have been adjusted to hit our maximum footfall (and improve my own work/life balance ever so slightly). Stock rotation is still a work in progress!

Let’s talk style, is there a particular style or colour scheme you prefer working with over others? Do you feel your work carries a distinctive style or signature?

I guess in terms of wedding work I adore luxury white blooms with tonnes of eucalyptus, I find it easier to order the right quantities and I love using the quality of the flower to make a statement rather than the colour of it.

That said, when I do get a ‘noisy’ brief - I love a challenge! I did a gorgeous lakeside tipi wedding last year in July. It was a red-hot sunny day; the bride had a custom-made crown and cape and came down the aisle to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’…you’re getting my drift! She gave me free reign and we created designs using a riot of colour and a medley of flower types, it was spectacular and absolutely represented the bride and groom as a couple, and I guess really that’s what I’m about.

Retail wise, I guess our style is natural and textured, heavy on foliage, heavy on scents and always looking for USPs to entice the customer to spend a little bit more with us!

Congratulations on achieving Good Florist Guide accreditation! What does membership mean to you and your business?

Ah, thank you so much! I was beyond thrilled. I’ve got to say that one of my goals all the way through the fit out of the shop was absolutely refusing to compromise on quality and finish so that I could demonstrate that not only did I have the right level of skills as a florist but was also hitting the right standards in terms of a retail experience. I was absolutely delighted when I achieved accreditation and couldn’t wait to get that certificate and stickers up in the shop!

Can you let us in on what the future holds for La Beau? Do you have any designs on further expansion or new products?

Hahaha! Always! I’d love to continue to expand the wedding business, so that I have enough teams to take on 2/3 weddings a day. As far as the shop goes, I want to learn more, I want to understand the retail market more, understand our client base more, get my first year of retail under my belt and understand more about the peaks and how to maximise sales from those busy times, consumer buying trends and habits.

Then there’s how to get into the corporate market, take on more commissions, enhance our delivery service, invest in a better ecommerce website, run more workshops and most importantly do more outreach work within our community.

We already have relationships with our local nurseries, our local WI and we’ve met with our local women’s refuge to look at establishing a long-term relationship with them. We run a monthly ‘Local Hero’ nomination which is really inspiring and often moving. We’re not just about flowers, as I say one of our values states ‘Community is at our core’ and I really want to do more of this over the coming months and years.

You can see the La Beau Fleurs style at or if you’re in the area pop in and see them at 24 Manchester Road, Woolston, Warrington, Cheshire, WA1 4AD Tel:01925 818938




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