Alicia Veron and Thomas Gauvillé decided to change their lives during confinement. He leaves Paris and sells art to open a grocery store in Montauban that bets on the quality of local products.
Being locked up in Paris in a 35m2 apartment during confinement changed everything. Alicia Veron, who runs a contemporary art gallery, and Thomas Gauvillé, a professor of art history, 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. Established in Paris for seven years, I wanted to find my native southwest. “The same conscience for his partner Alicia Veron who wanted a new life away from the Parisian artistic microcosm: “It needs sun, it needs 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 out on the roads of Occitania to meet horticulturists, winegrowers, arboriculturists… a gourmet tour of the country where they had the pleasure of discovering exceptional knowledge 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, opposite an enclosed cathedral and a far-from-completed courtyard. “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 into a neighborhood life around a tree-lined square popular with the Montalbais. We can’t wait for everything to end and to see other businesses take over this place. »
“We fell in love with downtown Montauban and its architecture”
With the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tarn-et-Garonne, the couple managed to establish a market study, create an internet interface and build a business plan for the first years. “It’s reassuring to follow a plan of action and have a reliable contact in a region you don’t know,” the couple admit. We did not hesitate in choosing Montauban, which validated all our criteria: a medium-sized city in the southwest in full demographic and economic development, soon served by LGV. We can also speak of a passion for the architecture of the historic center in which we could easily imagine our grocery store. »
Open all week and on Sunday mornings and holidays, the Léonard grocery store (named after his cat) offers around a thousand items in these 80 m2 divided into two rooms with vaulted masonry ceilings. While waiting for the esplanade installed in the future wooded area of the square, it is now possible to consume local products at the table in the passage of the Grand-Palais.
Pauline Lemaire, CCI 82 Business Consultant: “The first three years are crucial”
Pauline Lemaire, what are the profiles of project leaders for creating a business?
It’s too wide! We receive the public every morning and without an appointment and we serve students, as well as retirees, unemployed or active people.
How long does it take to start a business?
It all depends on the project and funding needs. Between the first appointment and registration in the commercial and company register, the fastest are paid between three and six months. But if many studies are produced, it can take a year.
What is the mistake not to make?
Believing that we can manage on our own, without accompaniment. When contacting us, we always start by establishing a diagnosis of the project and then propose an action plan.
What is the starting point of your support?
Each project leader follows the “ready-to-start” workshop that lasts three hours and is paid for by the Region.
Is market research essential?
It is very valuable because it validates the entrepreneurial approach, gives access to finance and avoids big mistakes.
When can you know if your project is viable?
The first three years are crucial for the company. They allow testing the economic model and financial security.
Lucie Beaufils, CCI 82 Business Consultant: “Always evaluate the business well”
Lucie Beaufils, when in 2021 the CCI of Tarn-et-Garonne supports 200 project leaders to create their businesses, there are only 52 buyers supported. Why so much difference?
It is mainly a question of mentality. Project leaders figure it’s easier to start from scratch than to assume what already exists. However, recovery has many advantages.
From accounting elements, one can easily study the company’s health status, identify productivity gains and possibly take advantage of an order backlog.
What is the first risk of a recovery?
Misidentifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses. It is also necessary to properly assess goodwill before quantifying a proposed acquisition. Finally, it is necessary to assess the capacities of the staff on site.
What is a buyer’s profile?
We can find employees undergoing professional retraining as business leaders looking to develop geographically or in a complementary sector.
To refine your procurement project, what might be the first step?
It is always easy to do a search on the trans-company website that aims to take over companies in a sector of activity, a geographic area, but which also includes incorporation projects. The consular network of chambers of commerce and industry is doing its best to broaden the search and bring sellers and buyers in touch.