Through Guillaume Laurens
It is a “regional, family and independent group! »Managing Director of Gefiroga, Olivier Garrigou, grandson of Marcel Garrigou, the founder of Midica, sticks tooth and nail to this triptych, which has embodied the DNA and the success of this family saga for 75 years.
Despite the crisis, Gefiroga, parent company of the famous Midica decoration store, established since 1946 in the city center of Toulouse, has continued to develop and create jobs. “We took full face, but despite these two years of great violence, we have lots of projects and ambition”, testifies Olivier Garrigou.
In addition to the Midica department store and its restaurant Gigiland, set up since 2019 at 4e floor of the building with a rooftop, Gefiroga now operates nine Intersport stores and two Blackstore stores.
The Covid, “an indicator of resilience”
“The Covid has been an indicator of resilience of our group ”, even argues Olivier Garrigou. Gefirog took advantage of the closures imposed on its stores to renovate them, but also pour training distributor to its staff. Reception, preparation of orders on the Internet, merchandising, catering… “More than 10,000 hours of training have been issued since the start of the pandemic to teams, in order to help them get through these difficult periods and emerge stronger ”. And today, he believes, “this has allowed collective emulation”.
More jobs than before the crisis
Gefiroga currently has 370 employees, against around 350 before the crisis, Even as turnover, which stood at 60 million euros in 2019, fell by around 15% the following year.
And if the first waves of the Covid had a huge impact on the activity, the group succeeded “Since August 2021” to find an activity close to normal. The estimates for 2021 even allow us to hope an increase in turnover global, which could approach 68 million euros.
In view of the developments and business projections for 2021, the group should have a workforce of 400 people at the end of the year.
The key, assures Olivier Garrigou, is an asset that the group “has never given up” for 75 years: independence. Gefiroga was able to count on public support and a State guaranteed loan of 4.5 million euros “which has been fully used”, but according to him, it is above all “Son financial autonomy which enabled the group to withstand the crisis, by preserving jobs ”and even by hiring additional employees, with the opening of new stores.
A new Intersport in Mazamet
At Gefiroga, “everything is reinvested in the box,” insists Olivier Garrigou, who owns the group’s capital with his father and sister. Result: despite the turbulence, the group made sure to continue its development during the crisis, half thanks to its own funds, the other to borrowing.
On August 4, he opened the doors of his ninth Intersport. Established in the town of Mazamet (Tarn), on a former commercial wasteland rehabilitated next to Leclerc, this new store of some 1,700 m2 a license to create “14 local jobs”. It is precious, and it is against “Those who choose to desert rural territories and small towns to concentrate in large cities”, raise the managers of Gefiroga, who make a point of honor to “get closer From their customers.
“Opening an Intersport in the middle of Covid in Mazamet is a daring bet!”.
Soon a new Intersport near Toulouse
But the development of Gefiroga did not stop at the capital of the Black Mountain. Before Mazamet, it was Bessières (Haute Garonne), a city of 4000 inhabitants north of Toulouse, which he inaugurated another Intersport store. It was in May 2020, between two confinements …
And it’s not over: in the next two years, it plans to open a new Intersport in the metropolitan area of Toulouse, where it already has four: Labège, Purpan, Rouffiac and Blagnac.
In the same vein, from 2023 the group will double the sales area of its Intersport store in Cahors (Lot) to reach 2,400 m2.
Two new Blackstores too
Regarding the multi-brand fashion brand Blackstore, after two store openings in Albi (Tarn) and Montauban (Tarn-et-Garonne), he plans two more by summer 2022, “one at Carcassonne (Aude), the other in the region as well ”.
The opening of these various stores “made it possible to cushion the crisis and partially offset the group’s loss of turnover in 2021”.
Gefiroga intends to continue this expansion, always with a strategy of “territorial implantation close to people ”, and “within a maximum of two hours” around the Pink City, the epicenter of the group.
Digitalize commerce, yes, but through stores
The Covid has also enabled Gefiroga to go the extra mile on digital. Initiated before the crisis, the digitization of the activity commercial one known in recent months a meteoric acceleration. In order to be able to respond to “the new modes of consumption which today oscillate between real purchases and purchases or scouting on the net”, the group has shifted gears in the face of online purchases.
“While everyone opposes them, we are betting that e-commerce, depicted as destroying local jobs and social ties, can also be complementary to local commerce”.
Olivier Garrigou wants to focus on “marrying the two” and believes that “if we consider that our warehouse is the store, we only reinforce the latter ”.
The digital boom is especially felt in stores Intersport, which are a cooperative of independent networked people. Here, it is not a national warehouse that serves online orders, but each store belonging to the network.
“At Intersport, for most products, an algorithm designates the store that will supply the customer. So if you order a pair of shoes online, the salesperson in your nearest store will pick them up directly.” .
“We won three years thanks to the Covid”
“Thanks to the Covid period, on a won three years on our digitization objectives ”, even tables Richard Hernandez, who manages the group alongside Olivier Garrigou. The web turnover went from 300,000 euros in 2019 to a forecast of 3 million euros for 2021. Ten times more … “We hadn’t measured this success”, develops Olivier Garrigou. “Some of our stores now make 10% of their turnover on the web”.
Even Midica and its decoration catalog went online two years ago, at the same time as the brand was developing its city deliveries. Since its renovation in September 2019, it has a commercial website, where it offers a selection of products online, either 3,500 references of the 18,000 available in stores.
Intersport relies on its made in France bikes
Other pride of the group: to make on the shelves “an increasingly large place” for products made in France, alongside those imported, and make a point of honor to “Relocate as much as possible” his activities. Here again, Olivier Garrigou cites his sporting goods distribution brand as an example. While most of its competitors are currently experiencing bike stockouts after confinement, the network is supplied without too much trouble by the Manufacture française du cycle, last French bicycle manufacturing plant in Loire-Atlantique, which Intersport has bought – and saved – in 2013. With the key, “quick deadlines and local jobs”. It is from this factory that today come 600,000 bikes per year, the brand now owning two brands of cycles made in France: Nakamura, but also Sun, bought 8 years ago at the bar… of the commercial court of Saint-Gaudens.
Forests bought back in the region, to eventually create their own wooden objects
After having worked for 15 years for the Ministry of Ecology, as an agricultural engineer, engineer of bridges, water and forests, Olivier Garrigou took over from his father Roland in 2017 at the general management of Gefiroga, but he did not forgets nothing about his background and wants to make it a point of honor to “transform the group towards a better environmental impact”.
In 2018, Gefiroga acquired a stake in the capital of BlueBees, the first crowdfunding platform dedicated to agroecology and responsible food, “which has so far made it possible to preserve more than 6,200 hectares of agricultural land and raised more than 9 , 5 M € for ecological rural projects “.
In 2019, the group acquired 230 hectares of forest in Ariège and Tarn, and created “a company dedicated to sustainable forest management and wood production”, Forega. “The ambition is that this wood will one day be used to manufacture the objects sold at Midica, to avoid international supply”, explains Olivier Garrigou. The course is there, but the road is long: “From the tree to the table, there are many floors!”.
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