The acquisition of Biscuiterie agenaise was not easy

” Another world. This is where Stéphane Chézal had the feeling of landing when he first joined Agenaise Biscuiterie. The company owned by the Bitone family was a client of the bank where he worked in Agen.

“I was in Paris, where I worked as a business manager for large companies. My family having stayed here, I came back two years ago, and the reverse is not possible. »

Even for a native of the region, the tent is brutal…

” Another world. This is where Stéphane Chézal had the feeling of landing when he first joined Agenaise Biscuiterie. The company owned by the Bitone family was a client of the bank where he worked in Agen.

“I was in Paris, where I worked as a business manager for large companies. My family having stayed here, I came back two years ago, and the reverse is not possible. »

Even for a native of the region, the tent is brutal. Quickly, the banker gets bored in a professional activity that purrs him and forces him to stick his nose in the associative accounts and not those of the giants of the CAC 40.

Until that famous day in January 2021 when his duties took him to the cake factory, opened in 1956 by the Maury family, before specializing in the production of unleavened bread and cookies and matzos for Easter. The first is marketed under the company’s brand. The second under that of “La Bienfaisante”.

This seasonal produce is guaranteed kosher for Easter by Beth Din of the Grand Rabbinate of Paris.

king solomon

The ovens were cooking these famous biscuits, including the best seller, the square with orange, when Stéphane Chézal pushed open the gates of rue Michelet. “They take place exclusively from December to March, as was explained to me at the time. I went to the workshops out of curiosity. Seeing the way the employees work, the tools, the rabbis who controlled the production, I felt something. So when the accountant told me the owners were looking to sell, for me who was looking for a challenge, it was a chance. »

“Challenge level, I was attended to. I fought to get there. A year of battle. Everything calmed down when I finally got to meet Michel Emsallem”

Let’s skip the transaction vicissitudes, the pilgrimages to bankers and all the rest. For Chézal, a goy and layman in the food industry, but keen on business management, the acquisition of the biscuit factory was no easy task. “Challenge level, I was attended to. I fought to get there. A year of battle. Everything calmed down when I finally got to meet Michel Emsalem, to whom our entire production of Easter cookies has always been sold. He didn’t want to risk seeing the factory close permanently, so we teamed up with his company King Salomon, which is the exclusive distributor throughout Europe. »

2.7 million euros

In charge since March 9, the CEO holds 60% of the shares of a company whose turnover of 2.7 million euros is 45% provided by Easter cookies. “The base is there, but everything has to be done. Here, communication was never a concern. So we created a website, launched direct sales, and went to the networks. »

This factory, which has remained in its original state, where working methods are passed on as a heritage, releases 2 million boxes a year, including 1.4 of unleavened bread. About twenty employees work in nine references. A set that Chézal wants to take away from that anonymity.

“We are semi-industrial, our recipes are without dyes, without preservatives. Our flours are 100% French. And that won’t change. With us, the 40 meters of gas oven continue to be lit by hand »

“We are national leaders, confides Stéphane Chezal. And if we want to evolve, it will never be by giving up our values, our know-how. We are semi-industrial, our recipes are without dyes, without preservatives. Our flours are 100% French. And that won’t change. With us, the 40 meters of gas ovens continue to be lit by hand. Now we have several goals ahead of us, but we have to make ourselves known even more, to open ourselves up. »

planned change

In business, opening also means exporting. Established in the Canadian market, Biscuiterie agenaise has established itself in the United States as a growth territory. “We also want to enter the Israeli market with La Bienfaisante. Once these actions have started, we will work on expanding our range, with new recipes, organic or Label Rouge. But I repeat, without changing any of our traditional know-how. »

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