He arrived in September 2016 to take over from company founder Michel Bourel, who also happens to be his father-in-law. Drawing on his insider knowledge of the firm and a more market-centric approach, he foresees a more international future for this family-owned group. Founded in 1985, it is the leading network of French wine merchants, with 163 outlets, 150 of them in France.
Before being ‘bitten by the wine bug’, Olivier Mermuys spent over twenty years in the electrical industry, in sales and marketing, establishing a number of overseas subsidiary companies.
Right off the bat, he adapted his valuable experience to Cavavin, applying the same techniques and drawing on relentless digital communications.
But he also held onto more traditional customs and the all-essential human relations, whereby franchisees can meet up twice a year during conventions held in a different venue every time. In some ways, this family dimension and unwavering bond between executives, members and listed winegrowers are Cavavin’s signature trait. During lockdown in spring 2020, Olivier provided standard letters addressed to banks and landlords for his ailing franchisees, for example.
He also produced videos with his staff to demonstrate to his wine merchants the prospects for the future, and keep the conversation going.
He even featured the wine merchants themselves, so that they could describe their own, inevitably unique experience. And he delivered an essential debriefing session via Skype in May to lay the foundations for effective recovery. Bouncing back is as challenging to manage as weathering the storm – every link in the chain has to resume its place, from the wine grower to the carrier, but with no knowledge of the speed of recovery.
Once again, belonging to a network makes all the difference, information is shared and wine merchants are not left to fend for themselves.
This is probably one of the reasons why Cavavin leads the way in mainland France, along with French Guyana and the Reunion Island.
It also has a foothold, though, in England, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Ivory Coast, the Congo and Morocco. The company’s international drive is part and parcel of its expertise, and also close to Olivier’s heart.
CAVAVIN aims to increase its international dimension. With nearly 200 wineries, CAVAVIN is present in almost 13 countries. This drive to expand internationally is continuing in the Netherlands and Flanders.
Olivier Mermuys, general manager of CAVAVIN and François Bignon, CAVAVIN franchisee of Paris Les Halles located at 18 rue du Roule, were the guests of Victoire Sikora in the programme Itinéraire Entreprise broadcast by Le Figaro.