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Is the Bloom Off at FTD?

The flower giant, burdened with debt, faces newly aggressive challenges from its two main competitors

With Valentine's Day nigh, the big flower merchants have slipped into marketing overdrive—creating bouquets with names like Petal Poetry, Love's First Bloom, and Butterfly Kisses. Behind the scenes, though, it's war.

FTD, burdened with debt following a stint in the hands of private equity, finds itself in a squeeze play between its two main rivals. Both 1-800-Flowers.com and Teleflora have entered retail and wholesale businesses FTD has long dominated. To make matters worse, the $19 billion industry is slowing along with the economy.