CAVAVIN renews the wine merchant profession!
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CAVAVIN renews the wine merchant profession!

Launched in the 1980s, Nicolas' competitor is aiming for 200 franchisees within two years. It is banking on a younger and more international clientele.


On the edge of Guérande (Loire-Atlantique), the 4,000 m. of its brand new warehouse is naturally ventilated "to avoid thermal shocks". The more than 4 million bottles sold in Cavavin's 155 shops in France pass through here. This means a maximum stock of 4,000 cases of wine and spirits, which is filled and emptied according to the arrival of semi-trailers.





It was in 1985 that Michel Bourel launched Cavavin, with a first store opened opposite the central market of La Baule. Since then, a lot of ground has been covered.


The goal of 200 stores should be reached by 2023. This means a growth of 10% per year, higher than the sector (+2%) for a company that should achieve a turnover of 25 million euros in 2021. This success is linked to its positioning. Cavavin is primarily targeting women and young people," says Olivier Mermuys, the founder's son-in-law, who took over the general management five years ago, with Michel Bourel remaining as chairman. For example, the shops are equipped with videos of wine growers. "The approach to wine must be educational and demystified. The world of wine is not that of one's father or grandfather. We are not here to bluff, to impose, but to offer the best value for money to the customer by adapting to what he wants.


The Guérande-based company, which has 40 employees, also has the particularity of operating with franchises (about 300 jobs in all). It has only five directly managed test shops. This model encourages greater involvement on the part of the wine merchant, and above all gives him greater freedom to adapt to local tastes. The manager of each shop has "the freedom to customise the cellar and the prices within our 2,000 references. He can make 30% of his purchases outside the catalogue", explains Olivier Mermuys, who previously had a career in marketing (Socomec, Legrand).


This autonomy does not prevent Cavavin from having a precise view of the market, thanks to feedback from franchisees. This strategy is attracting interest. The leaderNicolas, who "invented" the wine merchant profession in Paris at the beginning of the 19th century with the sale of wine by the bottle, wants to move towards more franchises (200 are targeted, in addition to the current number), whereas today these 500 shops are almost exclusively directly managed.



French-speaking countries and the United Kingdom


For the past year, Cavavin has gone even further.


It offers commission-affiliation: the affiliate brings in a smaller stake than a franchisee (around 20,000 euros) but has a reduced margin on bottle sales and has no latitude in product selection (it is an imposed catalogue). This is a way of attracting other, younger profiles, new to the profession. Today, according to the Syndicat des cavistes professionnels (SCP), four out of five managers are men, aged 47 on average, and only one in six of them started their professional life in the trade.


While 90% of Cavavin franchisees in France develop their business with private individuals, this proportion drops to 40% internationally. "In the Ivory Coast, it is also salespeople who go out and prospect for supermarkets, restaurants or hotels," emphasises Olivier Mermuys. In a more upmarket positioning, 15 shops sell abroad, mainly in French-speaking countries in Africa and Europe (Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland). The company has also invested in the post-Brexit UK market, with three stores already. Cavavin hopes to have 25% of its turnover generated internationally by 2023.



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Description générée automatiquement - Monday 27 December 2021 - Written by Thibault Dumas

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