In front of the production line which is working at full speed, Jean-Pierre Blanc is drinking whey. It must be said that the bet that the general manager of Malongo had launched was strong coffee, and strewn with pitfalls. However, for a year now, there it is: the leader in organic and fair trade coffee in France (400 employees, 120 million euros in turnover), which sells beans, pods and machines, has opened its own coffee maker manufacturing plant in La Roche-sur-Yon, in the Vendée. “We had been working on the made in France to stop producing in China, says Jean-Pierre Blanc. There, there was something wrong with the way of working, it irritated me… I was told that it was going to be complicated, that the labor costs were going to explode. But the idea was really to stop the logic of “I buy, I consume, I throw away”.
Alongside the heavyweights of the sector, the little Tom Thumb of coffee intends to do well with Eoh, his coffee machine with paper pods for the general public, presented as “a little more expensive than the others (119 euros) but ultimately at the right price because much more durable”. In the 680 m² glazed cell, in the heart of a commercial area, around thirty workers are busy assembling the device by hand, the number of parts of which has been halved, in order to limit the amount of hardware and assembly time.
“The majority of the components come from France, plastic and cardboard from Vendée, a department chosen because of its very important industrial fabric, which makes it possible to limit transport costs”, indicates Guillaume Rabourdin, the director of the Vendée company of production, a new subsidiary of Nice’s Malongo. At the end of the chain, coffees flow constantly to check that the 300 machines produced daily are working properly. Control of pressure, water temperature, “12-second heat-up time”… Nothing should be left to chance for this coffee maker, which is guaranteed for 5 years.
The “made in France”, not so salesman as that
With a “failure rate of only 0.7%”, the boss of Malongo says “no regrets” at this relocation. And this even if the adventure began with a subcontractor who ultimately did not do the trick, creating the need to start over from scratch but allowing the rate to be doubled by creating its own factory. And this, too, even if the made in France is actually not that much of a seller. “Everyone is for it, but it’s not the same story when you find yourself in front of the shelf,” smiles Jean-Pierre Blanc, who says he doesn’t make any margin on these machines. It’s a plus, but it doesn’t encourage the act of purchase either. »
After having gone through “supply problems”, the Eoh coffee maker, which comes in several colors, seems to have a bright future ahead of it. Now produced in 70,000 copies per year, it is attracting more and more individuals in France and abroad, as well as many hotels that equip their rooms with it. The Vendée production company, which also manufactures the central part of the professional machines stamped Malongo, will soon inherit the after-sales service of Eoh. Already thinking about the future evolutions of the machine, its director hopes to soon move to larger premises.