“We want to build a solid and sustainable business that is ready for the future”

It all started with a university project of Jesse Mostert: setting up a mini business. He decided to sell plant cuttings through Instagram. Not a bad idea, keeping the nursery in mind that had been in the family for three generations. When orders from all over Europe started pouring in, he realised: we need to follow up on this. A webshop was launched and a plan was drawn up. Since then, PLNTS.com by the Mostert family has become a successful international plants platform with an active buy-and-build strategy.

In 1961, grandpa Mostert founded the Mostert nursery in Nieuwerkerk. He specialised in the Schefflera: the umbrella tree. His aim? Growing a product for consumers to enjoy. He started on his own and was then joined by his two sons, who would take over the business later. Today, the third generation is at the helm of the family business, which includes PLNTS.com. PLNTS.com is a platform for plant lovers from all over Europe, selling indoor plants, pots and accessories. With their father Frits, brothers Jesse, Ruben, Matthias and David run a business with a full focus on e-commerce as well as the nursery.

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Mostert nursery

“The nursery has grown tremendously since our grandpa founded it over 60 years ago,” knows 25-year old Jesse, director of PLNTS.com. “He specialised in a single species. We now have over 150 species and serve a much wider audience. We supply traditional markets such as retailers, garden centres and DIY stores, but also consumers directly. Our surface area more than doubled.” “As little boys, we roamed the nursery,” his elder brother Ruben (29), general director of the nursery, relates. “And the general idea always was that one day, we would work here. But there were no concrete plans. Until Jesse’s university project, five years ago, suddenly presented an opportunity.”


From selling cuttings to indoor plants platform

“Our brother Matthias came up with the idea to sell cuttings online,” Jesse adds enthusiastically. “He noticed more and more hobby growers offering Chinese money plant cuttings online, but there were no professional sellers of cuttings at the time. Between his idea and my university project, we managed to fill that gap; with the nursery, cuttings weren’t hard to come by, of course.”

“At first, we only had an Instagram account, called Online Babyplants, where we shared photos of tiny plants and cuttings. We built a full-blown community and in no time we had about 10,000 followers. A fellow student of mine could build a website. It didn’t take long for the orders to come pouring in: from Italy, Greece – even from the Middle East and America. In the beginning, we offered only cuttings, later more exclusive plants as well. We imported those from outside Europe and grew them in our own nursery. That was the start of PLNTS.com.”

Opportunities in times of corona

Then corona entered the picture. Ruben: “And the whole thing went through the roof. Everyone was stuck inside and wanted to liven up their homes. Plants are just the way to do that. The great thing about cuttings and plants is that you can watch them grow, thanks to your love and attention. Plants are not just objects, they bring an experience into your home.” The brothers sold cuttings and plants but also compost, pots and accessories to plant lovers all over Europe.

Keep growing

As growth slowed down after corona, it was time to look at other ways to grow. Expanding outside Europe, for example to America? Jesse: “Plants.com, with an a, was owned by a listed company in the US, Marktlink discovered. And so we asked them to investigate whether we could acquire that domain name.” That proved tricky. But the seed had been planted. Ruben, Jesse and their brothers realised that business acquisitions actually fit the ambitions of the family business very well. Meanwhile, they have implemented an active buy-and-build strategy, together with Marktlink. In a short period of time, they acquired 123planten, 123kantoorplanten and e-fulfilment company Herbie and its consumer label Bloomique.

Turmoil in the business

“We want to build a solid and sustainable business, that is ready for the future. If you want to stand your ground in this market and in these times, you have two options, really. You either join others, or you make others join you. We went for the second option. By means of acquisitions, we achieve many synergy benefits and we keep professionalising our organisation. “’We need a little turmoil’ is what we always say,” Ruben laughs. “And that’s certainly what you get during an acquisition, there’s so much going on! We are taking quite a few steps and it’s so cool to see how we keep improving ourselves.”

Family business

Running a business with your father as well as your three brothers is wonderful, Ruben feels. “You know each other through and through, and so you know exactly where you stand with each other. Naturally, you need clear arrangements and a good division of roles. We are being coached in this respect, that’s important to us.  Work is always on our minds, really.” Jesse laughs. “Yes, that can be an issue at our mum’s kitchen table, not to talk business for once.”

Dot on the horizon

They have a rosy view of the future. Jesse: “We want to continue to expand our plants platform. The combination of our webshops and our nursery puts us in a strong position. With new acquisitions, we can help other businesses to grow. Within a few years, we want to grow into one of the major players in this market. Both inside and outside Europe.” He winks: “And that venture into the American market might happen after all!”