Gaston Lagaffe will make his comeback

PARIS: After closing its historic stores on Place de la Madeleine in Paris at the end of 2020, the luxury grocer Fauchon, which has been heavily loss-making in recent years, has regained its financial autonomy and is going back on the offensive, betting on the hotel and the international.

Claiming “135 years of culinary art”, Fauchon, whose products are available in delicatessen, cellar, pastry, tea, confectionery and chocolate, is in receivership and expects a return to equilibrium for the year ending at the end of March. 2022, after years of losses.

Entirely owned by the entrepreneur Michel Ducros – who entered the capital with 10% in 1998 – and present in around forty countries, the company, which has a turnover of 120 million euros, has developed its brand: it will have 80 points of sale (shops, restaurants, bakeries, “corners”, kiosks, etc.) – including 32 in Japan and 17 in France – at the end of 2022. It currently has 72. “with new consumer expectations, Samy Vischel, president of Fauchon and son-in-law of Mr. Ducros, told AFP, while in recent years “consumption, shopping districts, buying habits have changed”. Thus, with the health crisis, sales on the internet have “exploded to represent 15% of overall sales”, he specifies.

And to add that “since 2019 the online turnover has been multiplied by 2.5 and we could have done more but we were robbed: last year, the site had to be stopped on December 15 , for lack of products to be delivered”.

“We are a big brand but we have a small production”, says the president of Fauchon.

In 2021, a store and a restaurant opened in Nice. Abroad, two shops and two restaurants were opened in Mexico, a store and a restaurant in Dubai. Tahiti welcomed a second store.

Hotel in Riyadh

And despite the slowdown in travel due to the pandemic, Fauchon is arriving in airports as in Bahrain, and train stations: after a first boutique in Montparnasse station, a second is planned in St Lazare at the end of the year. He is also testing “Nano Fauchon”, boxes of macaroons to be removed from refrigerated cabinets.

As for the capital, “we are actively looking for a shop there, we are making offers, but neither the lease rights nor the rents are falling”, explains the president of Fauchon.

Since the health crisis, “the owners do not want to lower the rents so as not to devalue their property, so the stores remain empty, it is quite sad”, affirms M Vischel, noting that the former locations of Fauchon place de la Madeleine are unoccupied.

The brand, which has found a partner to relaunch its catering activities in 2022, is now also focusing on the hotel industry.

Since the opening in 2018 of a first five-star in Paris, a second opened in Kyoto in Japan in the spring of 2021, declining “the color code of the brand and its gourmet concept, with Fauchon products offered to the customer, a large café, a shop…”, specifies Maud Welter, sales and marketing director of the Parisian hotel.

“A third is planned for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in three years,” she says.

If the occupancy rate is “80% in Paris in March”, specifies Jérôme Montantème, general manager of the hotel, it is only 30% in Kyoto, travel being still very constrained in the peninsula.

Fauchon will celebrate 50 years of its presence in Japan: “no French gastronomy brand has been present there for so long”, affirms Mr. Vischel, who is targeting ten “open or signed” hotels in the world in 2027.

Finally, in the fall, Fauchon will create, in partnership with Neoma Business School, a 6,000 m2 school in Rouen, where up to 800 students will be trained per year, from the CAP to the bachelor’s degree in service management.

For the time being, the soaring costs of transport and raw materials (tea, chocolate, etc.) which “will cost at least five margin points”, worries the entrepreneur, who will raise his prices by 4% and increase his stocks.

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Gaston Lagaffe will make his comeback