Entrepreneur Teas and coffees: Maison laGrange relies on multichannel

Teas and coffees: Maison laGrange relies on multichannel

Originally from the small town of Marnay in Haute-Saône, Vincent Ballot found himself projected into the world of coffee in 1996 as a commercial agent for brand and producer coffees. He trains assiduously to join the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association), learning a lot about green coffee, roasting. He gradually discovered the product and fell in love with it with more and more passion. Vincent therefore worked for large companies which bought and produced, himself selling, without having to invest, in mass distribution.

LaGrange house

Activity : production and marketing of coffees and teas.
year of creation : 2009.
Number of employees : 13.
2018 turnover : 21 million euros.
Partnerships : small producers of coffee and tea.
Competitive strengths : exceptional coffees, creation of a coffee and tea school.
Type of customers : B2C, B2B (hotels, large restaurants, etc.).

In 2009, building on this first experience and his technical training, Vincent created his own brand, LaGrange house, in parallel with the sales agency that he continues to run. The sales agency provided him with a real professional network and enabled him to observe large-scale trends in a French market characterized by a large volume: more than 5 kilos of coffee consumed per person each year in France and a clear qualitative trend.

High-end coffees

Vincent thus takes his marks and his enthusiasm turns into passion. Suddenly, with the hindsight of experience, the business model of Maison laGrange takes shape quickly. It is part of a two-part scheme:

– the “commercial agency” component, distributor of classic coffees, known as commodities;

– the “Maison laGrange” component, roaster and distributor of exceptional specialty coffees, to which the tasters give a score of at least 80 out of 100.

The sales agency now realizes 19 million turnover and Maison laGrange nearly 2 million. In addition to exceptional coffees, there are teas, herbal teas and infusions, because “ in general, a country that produces good coffee is also a producer of good teas “. This domain is reserved for Vincent’s wife.

The added value of exceptional coffees lies in theraw material requirement, on the conditions and environment of its culture, in roasting know-how and in the search for perfection at all stages of the product’s life.

Control of production has been confirmed through partnerships with small producers located in Latin America, the West Indies, Africa and Asia. Organic certification and grain selection are the basis of Vincent’s coffee purchases. Finding small producers is a matter of word of mouth, of visits to farms, of discussions with their owners. The R & D of Maison laGrange begins there and, with Vincent, she advises small producers to produce better, from one end of the planet to the other.

The difficulty is that organic certification comes at a cost for producers and most of them live below the poverty line. But after verification in the field, the coffee can be considered organic after roasting, which benefits from a certified label, guaranteeing respect for the raw material processed. […]

Multichannel distribution

At the end of the packaging or encapsulation operations, subcontracted to a Belgian company for reasons of business expertise and related investment, the distribution itself is based on three pillars:

– the website www.lagrangedirect.com. Vincent devotes attention and investment to both coffees and teas;

– promotion to influencers or specifiers: starred chefs, upscale hotels aiming as high as possible. Cafés laGrange have the expertise and legitimacy to be among the leaders. The scale is that of excellence;

– the opening of own stores: these are “discovery” stores that explain to consumers the whole world of coffee and teas, infusions, in order to live a sensory, visual, tactile and taste experience.

Maison laGrange offers high-end products, with particular attention paid to the raw material.
– Maison laGrange

In 2018, Vincent Ballot is dedicated Best Craftsman of France (MOF). […] Being “MOF” has really changed the outlook of colleagues, competitors, and that of prospects who crowd into the agenda of meetings. Also look at employees: through Vincent, all of its employees are rewarded and proud to support Maison laGrange at the peak of excellence. […]

Vincent Ballot has created his own school, laGrange Académie, to train professionals, apprentices and amateurs in roasting and coffee, who can prepare for the AST (Authorized SCA Trainer) diploma accreditation. Subsequently, the Academy will be able to diversify into the world of tea.

International development

Exporting is in its early stages, with an agent in the Czech Republic, two stores in Belgium, first steps in Thailand… ” China is still a mirage: it is a huge market where a Starbucks opens every fifteen hours. You have to prepare for it without haste by relying on luxury hotels », Argues Vincent.

Development is also the sustainability of the company and the desire that Vincent has to pass on: technical know-how of course with training, but also a transmission of heritage already focused on his wife and their daughter Jeanne with whom he works on a daily basis.

Whether as a business leader, with his collaborators as with the producers, whether as a mayor of his village of Marnay, also as a teacher, Vincent Ballot strives to transmit positive values ​​and to help make the world a better place. ”
A business manager must move forward, must give his vision and manage daily life, including dramas. Being mayor is also that. The two professions make it possible to never leave reality
», Concludes Vincent […].

Pauline Lahary and Alain Van Kote, authors of ‘Your Tailored Business Model’, published by Eyrolles editions.
– Eyrolles

The authors

Pauline Lahary is the founder of Mycvfactory, which produces tailor-made CVs. Alain Van Kote runs Alpha Omega Consultancy, which offers professional coaching services to managers. This text is taken from their book “Your tailor-made business model” published by Eyrolles editions, 278 pages, 25 euros.

Maison laGrange and the Covid-19 crisis
The big lesson from Covid is that we were right to be multi-channel, blows Vincent Ballot, it is thanks to this that we did not waver. “Indeed, while Maison laGrange’s sales in cafes and restaurants have plummeted (-70%), the private labels of its sales agency have exploded and its own internet sales have quadrupled. Vincent was to maintain the exchanges with the suppliers as well as their deliveries. At the end of January 2021, he will take the plane for the first time since the start of the crisis to visit a supplier.
Leo Da Veiga

Solidarity with entrepreneurs

In this difficult period, entrepreneurs and managers of VSEs and SMEs need support more than ever. The Les Echos Entrepreneurs site is making its contribution by offering free information and testimonials for the coming weeks. To stay informed of entrepreneurs and startups news, consider subscribing to our daily newsletter and / or the weekly Farewell crisis!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *