Mother’s Day is like the Super Bowl for florists

Customs And Border Protection Inspects Flower Shipments To U.S.
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 7: Roses, imported from Ecuador for Mother's Day, sit to be inspected by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists for pests and diseases on May 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. On a typical day, the CBP seizes about 4,436 prohibited plant, meat and animal byproducts and finds 570 agricultural pests from abroad that could harm US agriculture. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Photograph by David McNew — Getty Images

Mother’s Day is the Super Bowl of flowers, with Americans expected to spend $2.4 billion on arrangements for their mothers, wives, and girlfriends this year.

In fact, the holiday is the most significant sales driver for the $27 billion U.S. floral industry, with sales of flowers for Mother’s Day exceeding Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Easter. Americans spend more on flowers than on other popular gifts such as greeting cards, apparel, and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation.

Robert Apatoff, CEO of florist FTD Companies (FTD), unsurprisingly flourishes at this time of year. He personally sends out five floral arrangements each year, perhaps signaling why the holiday is more important than Valentine’s Day — most people only have one Valentine, but many Americans have more than one mother to shop for (not only their own mothers, but also their wives and mother-in-laws).

While Mother’s Day is only top of mind for most Americas in the days leading up to this Sunday, Apatoff said FTD begins prepping for Mother’s Day just two weeks after the holiday winds down, so he will be back into planning mode for 2016 in just a few weeks time.

Apatoff told Fortune it is critical that the company, known for its Mercury Man logo, get orders right.

Missing a mom’s Mother’s Day is far more emotional than shipping a shirt with a missing button, the former Reebok executive said. Last year, he personally intervened in a messed up order for a solider stationed in Afghanistan, ensuring an order was sent to his wife.

“In this world we live in, with tweets and texts, there are very few ways to get across emotion anymore,” Apatoff said. Flowers are a more emotional expression, he added.

FTD, which reported $640.5 million in annual revenue last year, will report far stronger growth this year thanks to a key acquisition: The company on Thursday reported first-quarter revenue soared 94% to $367.8 million, largely due to the acquisition of Provide Commerce. That deal merged FTD’s brands with ProFlowers and Shari’s Berries.

When asked which business challenge is top of mind, Apatoff pointed to the pace of change in e-commerce. To compete effectively in that world, FTD has five apps to lure mobile shoppers, including two that were launched last year by Provide Commerce.

And while consumers are still generally going to their desktops to make purchases —as they prefer to see larger photos of floral arrangements before making a decision — Apatoff said mobile is a growth opportunity.

“We are seeing clear year-on-year increases in ordering on mobile,” he said.
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