The Sarthoise Bellanger chocolate factory opens a shop in Laval – Le Journal des Entreprises – Maine-et-Loire

In March 2023, the Sarthe chocolate maker Bellanger (52 employees, 4 million euros in turnover) will open a shop in Laval, place du 11-Novembre, opposite the Hôtel de Ville. It will be added to the three shops that the chocolate maker has in Le Mans, and that of Tours (Indre-et-Loire), the sales tools being supplemented by an active e-commerce site. For Vianney Bellanger, who took over the father’s business in 2017this establishment constitutes a return to the sources, his family being originally from Laval.

Beyond this symbolic motivation, it is a strategic choice. “The period is tense. We recorded + 30% of the costs on packaging, + 50 to 70% on raw materials and energy. Faced with this situation, either we wait, we degrade the margins and we suffer; either we assume inflation and we find sources of remuneration to finance it”, justifies the leader. It has increased the salaries of its staff by 12% between January 2022 and January 2023, and therefore seeks to increase its turnover by around 10%.

After Le Mans and Tours, Maison Bellanger is opening a store in Laval.
After Le Mans and Tours, Maison Bellanger is opening a store in Laval. – Photo: Bellanger House

In addition to this new point of sale in Mayenne, the chocolatier has activated several levers. Not wanting to fully pass on the price increase of his suppliers to the final price, the entrepreneur stalled. A 5% increase was applied to the 1er November 2022 on prepackaged products. Bulk chocolate prices have been preserved. They will finally be increased by 10% in February, which remains much less than the actual increase suffered by the craftsman. To limit the price effect for the customer, Maison Bellanger favored the reuse of packaging: it authorized the relining of the box brought by the customer, and charged for the Luxe bags previously offered. Consequence: maintained prices and reduced waste.

Reinforcement of production

If two to three hires are planned in Laval, the company’s payroll will be reduced by 10%. Departures are not replaced, compensated by internal reorganization. Thus, certain positions (digitization, animation) will be repositioned in the production laboratory. The leader himself plans to reduce his days dedicated to creation to return to production.

Another aspect consists of optimizing production, such as sales, based on the work on organization (supply chain, lean management) carried out by two engineering trainees. “We are also going to reduce our product range,” says the manager. The SME will refocus on the 80% of products that sell the best.

Development of Thermoform

In April 2022, Vianney Bellanger acquired from Italian group Pusterla 1880 its mold supplier, Thermoform, in Le Mans, by teaming up with Benoît Boret, manager of the Angevin company Pyramidor, with a 60% majority. The two partners took over the company and the employees. It generates one million euros in turnover with six employees. This first year consisted in ensuring the continuity of activity, a prospecting phase will start. A CAD designer (computer-aided creation) is being recruited.

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