Alicia Veron and Thomas Gauvillé have decided to change their lives during confinement. Exit Paris and trades in art to open a grocery store in Montauban that focuses on the quality of local products.
Staying locked up in Paris in a 35 m2 apartment during confinement changed everything. Alicia Veron, in charge of a contemporary art gallery and Thomas Gauvillé, an art history teacher, wanted to change everything. “In our thirties, the idea of creating our company was already in our heads and the health crisis accelerated our thinking. The Covid crisis has reinforced our idea of consuming quality products locally while controlling our supply circuits, explains Thomas Gauvillé. Settled in Paris for seven years, I wanted to find my native southwest. “Identical awareness for his partner Alicia Veron who wanted a new life far from the Parisian artistic microcosm: “Need sunshine, need for sincere relationships and quality human contacts… the idea of opening a grocery store in which we would only sell quality local products thrilled me. »
Here are these two project leaders who set off on the roads of Occitanie to meet market gardeners, winegrowers, arboriculturists… a gourmet country tour where they took pleasure in discovering exceptional know-how and products. “We had to juggle exit certificates to go from farm to farm,” recalls Thomas. The rest of the time, we spent looking for a place to open our business. On May 1, 2021, the Léonard grocery store opened on Place Roosevelt in Montauban in front of a closed cathedral and a forecourt far from being finished. “Settling in Montauban and precisely in this sector of the city still under construction is a real bet on the future, recognizes Alicia. From the beginning, we projected ourselves on a neighborhood life around a tree-lined square appreciated by the Montalbanais. We can’t wait for everything to be finished and to see other businesses take over this place. »
“We fell in love with downtown Montauban and its architecture”
With the support of the Tarn-et-Garonne Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the couple was able to establish a market study, create an internet interface and build a business plan for the first few years. “It’s reassuring to follow an action plan and to have a reliable contact in a region that you don’t know,” admits the couple. We did not hesitate on the choice of Montauban which validated all our criteria: a medium-sized town in the south-west in full demographic and economic development, soon to be served by the LGV. We can also speak of a crush on the architecture of the historic center in which we easily imagined our grocery store. »
Open all week and on Sunday mornings and public holidays, the Léonard grocery store (the name is inspired by that of their cat) offers nearly a thousand references in these 80 m2 divided into two rooms with vaulted brickwork ceilings. While waiting for the terrace installed in the future wooded area of the square, it is already possible to consume local products at a table in the passage of the Grand-Palais.
Pauline Lemaire, business advisor at CCI 82: “The first three years are crucial”
Pauline Lemaire, what profiles do project leaders have for creating a business?
It’s very wide! We receive the public every morning and without an appointment and face us students as well as retirees, unemployed or active people.
How long does a business start-up take?
It all depends on the project and the financing needs. Between the first appointment and registration in the trade and companies register, the fastest are settled between three and six months. But if many studies are to be produced, it can take a year.
What is the mistake not to make?
To believe that we can manage on our own without accompaniment. By contacting us, we always start by establishing a diagnosis of the project and then we propose an action plan.
What is the starting point of your support?
Each project leader follows the “ready to get started” workshop which lasts three hours and which is paid for by the Region.
Is market research essential?
It is very valuable because it validates the entrepreneurial approach, provides access to financing and avoids major mistakes.
When can you know if your project is viable?
The first three years are crucial for the company. They make it possible to test the economic model and financial security.
Lucie Beaufils, business adviser at CCI 82: “Always assess the business properly”
Lucie Beaufils, when in 2021 the CCI of Tarn-et-Garonne supports 200 project leaders to create their business, there are only 52 buyers supported. Why such a difference ?
It is above all a question of mentality. Project leaders imagine it easier to start from scratch than to take over what already exists. However, recovery has many advantages.
From accounting elements, one can easily study the state of health of the company, identify productivity gains and possibly take advantage of an order book.
What is the first risk of a recovery?
Misidentify the strengths and weaknesses of the company. It is also necessary to properly assess the goodwill before quantifying a takeover proposal. Finally, it is necessary to assess the capacities of the employees in place.
What is the profile of a buyer?
We can find employees in professional retraining as business leaders who seek to develop geographically or in a complementary sector.
To refine his takeover project, what can be the first step?
It is always easy to launch a search on the trans-company website which targets companies to be taken over in a sector of activity, a geographical area but which also brings up takeover projects. The consular network of chambers of commerce and industry is doing its utmost to broaden research and put transferors and buyers in touch.