Picard Surgelés, the French frozen food chain, seeks growth in its home country through franchising. That marks a change in strategy, because up until now the group only operated through its own stores.
Mainly in areas with lower population
Successful tests in the Corsican towns of Bastia and Ajaccio and on the oversees island of La Réunion have prompted this change in strategy for Picard: "To run such a team of franchise stores, we need a capable team and now we have one", president Philippe Dauze said.
So far Picard has focused on densely-populated areas, but it hopes to grow in France's rural areas through franchising. These regions should be able to generate 900 million euro, money that currently goes to companies like Toupargel and Thiriet, which bring frozen foods to the customers's doorstep.
Picard franchise stores will be considerably smaller than the regular stores, at 150 - 200 sqm compared to the habitual 400 sqm, and carry a smaller range of products, but at equal prices. The local managers will even get a say in the store's product range. The company plans on opening 10 to 15 franchise stores this year, slowly building up to 40 stores per year.
Also expand its own network
Picard has 925 stores in France, all owned and managed by the company itself, and it has no intention of stopping there. For 2015, it plans on opening another 20 to 25 stores itself. Its owner, British investment fund Lion Capital, believes France still offers plenty of room for expansion, especially as Picard Surgelés currently "only" has an 18 % market share.
President Dauze also commented firmly on the long-running rumours that the company might be for sale: "We have never confirmed we were for sale and this franchising step is not meant to embellish the company beyond its current appeal."