“The merchant’s website, the markets, the actual sellers… Now, we’re moving to own the stores. We try everything! If it works, we repeat it. Sock France (LCF) Created by Tismail factory.
This company of Troyes, founded in 1961, manufactures white-labeled socks, especially for the French armies, La Poste, the Gendarmerie, mass distribution and brands such as Aigle, Fusalp, Le Slip français, Cocorico or La Redoute. CEO Benoit SeguinJoined the SME in 2010 along with the buyer
Alain Lomoni. “For several years, we have been shrinking our profit margins to continue offering competitive ‘Made in France’ products. After that, we told ourselves that the best way to start being more free is to create our own brand,” summarizes Benoit Seguin.
And so La Chaussette de France was born about ten years ago. Until last year, the brand only developed online and through a network of retailers such as Au Vieux Campeur and Terre de Running. The goal of this new strategy: to present an offer to embody the brand and enhance its image with customers. Of course, increasing its share in the total size of small and medium business by 48 employees.
Ten stores by 2027
After the first three openings, in La Rochelle in June 2021, Lyon in November 2021 and Lille in April 2022, the choice of retail as a new medium for distribution and development appears to be paying off. “We are satisfied with the start of these first points of sale. La Rochelle is off to a particularly good start: in seven months, we have achieved the expected one-year sales turnover”, rejoices Benoît Seguin.
In its typical stores of an average of 45 square meters, the manufacturer of made-in-France socks sells exclusively products of its own brand, La Chaussette de France. Technical socks, which made them popular in the world of skiing, then running and jogging, but also casual socks, are available in shows for men, women and children.
A fourth store, ephemeral this time, will open its doors in October 2022 in Arcachon, for six months. “We’re taking the opportunity, Benoit Seguin slips. If it’s decisive, we’ll renew the experiment the following year. Other projects are in the pipeline, the goal of which is to have six to ten stores within three to five years.”
For now, Tismail is working on reducing the risk. These slots are done directly, on self-financing, thanks to a rather convenient cash flow. “We’d rather pay higher rents but do without the principal money and the right to rent,” adds the manager. So called “American” leases that allow the tenant not to pay very large amounts of money when starting out.
Free yourself from mass distribution
Within ten years, La Chaussette de France is gaining ground, reaching 20% of Tismail’s total sales in 2019. “This is down to 15% in 2020, Covid fault and activity in ski resorts where we have many of our many merchants have eased. 500. But we hope that this number will rise to 25% this year”, confirms Benoit Seguin. 20% of the production lines at the Troyes plant are entirely devoted to La Chaussette de France, and the brand’s turnover should almost double, from 700,000 euros in 2021 to 1.3 million in 2022, of which 400,000 euros must be manufactured in LCF stores.
On the other hand, there is no doubt, at the moment, to talk about franchising or affiliate commission. Store development continues within the company. At least initially. “I haven’t looked into it yet, but I’m not closing the door to this opportunity, which has the advantage of bringing independent entrepreneurs into the network, who are a source of proposals. Because retail is a separate profession, we realize that the store must be run as a profit center in its own right. And that’s Not necessarily clear, unless they are operated by the franchisor,” Benoît Seguin analyzes.
Tismail also dreams of direct international development of its brand, which is already distributed by about a hundred retailers in Europe. But be careful: the priority is to stabilize the first stores, which are still very small.