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chef-jacques-torres puts the finishing touches on gift baskets.
AP Photo/Richard Drew
1-800-Flowers.com nailed it with gift baskets.
BASKETS OF JOY

The hot new item from 1-800-Flowers.com isn’t flowers

By Katherine Ellen Foley

1-800-Flowers.com has made its money selling flowers for more than 40 years, but its future is meats, cheeses, and royal riviera pears.

In the company’s second-quarter earnings call Thursday (Jan. 31), it reported a strong holiday season, during which it brought in $571.3 million in revenue, 8.6% more than it did in that timeframe last year. The vast majority of that revenue came from the company’s fancy foods and gift baskets.

In total, gift baskets and other orders of fancy foods brought in four times as much revenue than consumer flower sales, which are those made on the website 1800-flowers.com. BloomNet, 1-800-Flowers’ wire service that allows people to call in orders to their local florist, brought in only a quarter of the revenue of online flower orders.

1-800-Flowers.com started selling gift baskets and fancy foods in the late 1990s (pdf) when it started acquiring companies like the Popcorn Factory, 1-800-Baskets.com, and Cheryl’s cookies. It struck gold, however, when in 2014 it bought Harry & David—of gift basket and pear fame—after the latter filed for bankruptcy in 2011.

Since then, 1-800-Flowers.com has essentially flipped Harry & David into a hip moneymaker. On the Jan. 31 earnings call, the company said its strategy to shift marketing for Harry & David from catalogs to online ads worked to bring in new customers. Most of the new customers during the 2018 holiday season were younger people who shopped online, Chris McCann, the CEO of 1-800-Flowers.com, said on the call. He expects that Harry & David sales will continue to increase through 2019.

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