La Chaussette de France weaves its network of physical stores, marketing and sales

“Dealer site, marketplaces, physical resellers… and now we’re moving into proprietary stores. We try everything! If it works, we duplicate. Otherwise we stop. A simple but effective strategy for the Made in France sock brand The Sock of France (LCF) created by Tismail factory.

Founded in 1961, the Troyes-based company produces white label socks, in particular for the French armies, La Poste, the Gendarmerie, mass distribution and brands such as Aigle, Fusalp, Le Slip français, Cocorico or La Redoute. Its CEO Benoit Seguinjoined the medium-sized company alongside the buyer in 2010
Alain Laumone. “For several years we have withdrawn and reduced our margins to continue offering competitive Made in France. And then we said to ourselves that the best way to become more free is to create our own brand,” summarizes Benoît Seguin.

This is how La Chaussette de France was born about ten years ago. Until last year, the private label only developed online and through a network of retailers such as Au Vieux Campeur and Terre de Running. The aim of this new strategy: to be a showcase to embody the brand and strengthen its image with customers. And of course to increase its share of the total turnover of medium-sized companies 48 employees.

Ten branches by 2027

After three first openings, in La Rochelle in June 2021, Lyon in November 2021 and Lille in April 2022, the choice of retail as a new form of distribution and development seems to be bearing fruit. “We are pleased with the launch of these first outlets. La Rochelle got off to a particularly good start: in seven months we had achieved the sales forecast for one year,” says Benoît Seguin happily.

In its concept stores, which have an average size of 45 m², the Made in France sock manufacturer only sells products from its own brand La Chaussette de France. Technical socks that have made it famous in the world of skiing, then trail and running, but also more casual socks, available in offers for men, women and children.

A fourth store, this time short-lived, will open its doors in Arcachon in October 2022 for a period of six months. “We take a chance,” Benoît Seguin slips out. If conclusive, we will renew the experience the following year. Other projects are also in the works, with the goal of reaching six to ten stores within three to five years.

Company CEO Benoît Seguin joined SME Tismail in 2010 along with buyer Alain Laumone.

For now, Tismail is limiting risk-taking. These openings are direct, self-funded, thanks to a fairly comfortable cash flow. “We prefer to pay higher rents, but do without key money and leasing rights,” adds the manager. So-called “American” leases, which allow the tenant not to pay excessive sums when commissioning.

Emancipate yourself from mass distribution

In ten years, La Chaussette de France has gained ground and in 2019 even represented 20% of the total sales of Tismail many of our 500 dealers have. But we hope that this year this number will increase to 25%,” assures Benoît Seguin. 20% of the production lines at the Troyes plant are already entirely dedicated to La Chaussette de France and the brand’s sales are expected to almost double from 700,000 euros in 2021 to 1.3 million in 2022, of which 400,000 euros will come from LCF stores should be .

For the time being, on the other hand, there is no talk of franchise or commission affiliation. The stores will continue to be developed in-house. At least initially. “I haven’t looked into the matter yet, but I’m not shutting down this opportunity, which has the benefit of bringing independent entrepreneurs into the network who are a source of suggestions. Because retail is a profession in its own right, we know that a business must be run as a profit center in its own right. And it’s not necessarily obvious unless they’re run by a franchisee,” analyzes Benoît Seguin.

Tismail also dreams of a direct international development of its brand, which is already sold by around a hundred retailers in Europe. But beware: The priority is to stabilize the first, still very young, stores.

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