Posted on Dec. 2020 at 17:18
From Bayonne to Rouen via Bordeaux and Paris, most of L’Atelier du Chocolat’s 35 boutiques are now full of customers. But the sign is playing its game these few days by the end of the year.
With the first confinement, the chocolate maker who normally generates a fifth of its turnover during the Easter holidays has seen its activity almost reduced to nothing. Only the three franchised stores remained open. The company was certainly able to limit the damage thanks to the 200,000 euros in sales made via the Internet. A part was sold by drive through the four shops in Bayonne and Anglet; the others were sent by La Poste. “This only represents 10% of what we sell during this period, but it allowed the business to get back on track”, explains Nelly Andrieu, president of the company, created by her father in 1995.
The 3,000 orders shipped in two weeks required a tour de force by bringing back to the Bayonne headquarters some of the stocks that were already distributed in the shops. And while all employees rallied, the company was overwhelmed by demand and faced some 700 back orders. This did not prevent it from posting a 15% drop in turnover to 8.2 million euros and a loss of nearly 1 million euros, for the fiscal year ended in May 31st.
L’Atelier du Chocolat has learned the lesson and is now wary of unsold products. For the holidays, he has revised his offer and offers a single model of Santa Claus in chocolate, preferring more timeless subjects – in particular forest animals. In recent weeks, the chocolate maker has seen its turnover with professionals increase slightly. “Companies have somewhat replaced the big end-of-year dinners with gifts”, notes Nelly Andrieu.
In any case, the coming days will be decisive for this company which employs 125 people on permanent contracts and achieves 40% of its activity at the end of the year. This mainly involves amortizing the rents of the 32 stores, which are generally well placed in town centers or in shopping centers. They weigh 1.1 million euros, or more than 60% of fixed charges. “Some donors have made a gesture but it is marginal. We now have a few days to generate sales ”, breathes Nelly Andrieu.
In this crucial period, the SME can bet on both a rather expensive gift offer and on impulse purchases. This has been his recipe for twenty-five years: original products, made on site and sold in a “raw” setting, so as not to intimidate the customer. Since its creation, two flagship products have been the source of nearly two-thirds of sales: the Bouquet de Chocolat, sold in a cone, between 15 and 30 euros; and the “bite”, always displayed at the entrance of shops, at 3 euros.