Puyricard is a premium chocolate-maker. It produces and sells fine handmade chocolates, calissons and confectionary through its own retail network (14 stores in France: 12 in Provence, 2 in Paris), wholesales and website. It is the French leader for craft chocolate, with an annual production of 120 tons of chocolate and a turnover of 6,9 million euros. The company is family-owned and run by the sons of the founders. It was created 40 years ago and the CEO, Tanguy Roelandts, now tries to increase the development of the company by opening new shops and finding new commercial agreements, increasing online sales, with still premium chocolates and candies.
Puyricard was created in the 1968 by Marie-Anne Roelandts and her husband Jan-Guy, a Belgian couple who arrived in Southern France near Aix-en-Provence after having left Africa when Congo decolonization of Congo triggered war. In the late 50’s, Marie-Anne had decided to launch a chocolate manufacture in Congo. She went to one of the best Brussels chocolate maker to learn the technique of chocolate. She bought manufacturing machines. In Africa, she learnt the principles of cocoa. Making chocolate is true alchemy. To work chocolate, it needs to be slightly below body temperature. At over 37 degrees centigrade it loses its gloss and its qualities. Nevertheless, little by little, Marie-Anne became an expert. The chocolates she made were increasingly popular. They became the accepted corporate gift, the small offering that diplomats give to their foreign guests. They had to leave Congo with the beginning of political fights and decolonization war. Neither Jan Guy nor Marie-Anne wanted to return home. They liked the sun, so the Mediterranean looked inviting. For Jan Guy, any country on the ‘Grand Bleu’ would have been just fine, but Marie-Anne did not agree. She preferred a French-speaking country. Around the Mediterranean the choice was limited, so the couple headed for Provence. It was in Aix en Provence that the Roelandts family made their home in 1967. They set up their
workshop in a hangar on the site of a disused building materials factory. This place was close to Puyricard, and this charming village’s name was adopted by the Roelandts for the family chocolate-making firm. In this thyme-growing region, chocolate was not part of local gastronomy. The people were wary of it, knew little about it. It was given at Christmas but only sparingly. It was treated like a newcomer, an “outsider” from a different place. In truth, they were right to be cautious, as the chocolate available here was often stale and of mediocre quality. So the Roelandts found themselves having to fight against an entire culture. While Marie-Anne took care of the production, Jan Guy educated the people. He became a missionary of fine chocolate, visiting the confectionery shops. After having tamed the local confectioners, the Roelandts decided to open their own shops. The first was situated on the little road that lead to Puyricard. Tourists called in and the locals approached with caution. Over the years, they opened eleven shops all over the South of France and two shops in Paris. Situated as they were near Aix en Provence, they decided to make calissons, a delicious regional speciality.
PRODUCTS AND ACTIVITIES
Chocolate is the main product. However, Puyricard developed classical Provence gourmet food, with calissons, marrons glacés, fruits confits. They position themselves as premium classics. However, they create new products each season, with principles of collections. Chocolate demand is seasonal, particularly for the gourmet segment. 45% of Puyricard sales are in December. Puyricard policy is to use the best quality products and diary. They only use fresh ingredients and reject all synthetic flavourings, chemical additives or any other conservation method. As a matter of fact, for confectionary and truffles, they use real crème fraîche, not UHT (ultrahigh...