InvestigationIt all started with competition from “street food”, then the attacks and confinements ended up undermining these institutions of French gastronomy. Today, among these centenarians, to each his own recipe to try to stick to his time.
The silver business card of David Holder, CEO of Ladurée, expresses his title in gold letters: ” President. Dream Leader [meneur de rêve]. » At one time, David Holder’s mission could indeed be a dream: to develop a pastry brand founded under Napoleon III, in a market that was not very competitive and fed by tourists eager for French gastronomy. Today, her job seems a bit less magical: “If I don’t react, Ladurée will be buried alive”, he sums up.
“A burger is not Dalloyau. A good blanquette, yes. »Marie-Charlotte Familiades, Retail Director of Dalloyau.
Not all bosses are outspoken, but Ladurée is not the only company to find itself in a delicate situation. Fauchon, Lenôtre, Dalloyau, Angelina… the historic brands of French pastry making, which also serve as a tea room or caterer, are faced with a multitude of obstacles. “We all have beautiful names, but we will not all be able to get by”, sighs Marie-Charlotte Familiades, retail director of Dalloyau, arrived in 2019 (after a receivership in 2017) to revive the brand.
And the difficulties do not date from the confinement of March. The first stone in the shoes of these institutions dates from 2010, with the explosion of competition. In Paris and elsewhere, “street food” is essential, an Asian wave is breaking, neighborhood grocery stores are flourishing, all at low prices. In this context, the prawns and rice pilaf with three peppers at 22 euros at Lenôtre (without specifying the origin of the products) or the club sandwich at 18 euros at Ladurée lose some of their superb … “Until this year, the Dalloyau catering card changed every six months. But it is not possible to be good and seasonal in these conditions! “, admits Marie-Charlotte Familiades.
On the sweet side, these brands were unable to anticipate the arrival of new competitors, although most of them were trained within them. Fauchon saw the emancipation of Pierre Hermé (also passed through Lenôtre and Ladurée), Christophe Michalak, Sébastien Gaudard or Cédric Grolet; Christophe Adam, also formerly of Fauchon, launched a fashion of single-product signs (dedicated to éclairs, cabbages, marvels, etc.).
“Young neighborhood pastry chefs have shaken up the market. I didn’t see them coming, I was too focused on international development ”, admits David Holder of Ladurée. This is also true for Fauchon, Dalloyau or Lenôtre, which then developed in the Middle East or Asia, and hardly worried about competition in France where tourists run their business.
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