Find Your Niche

There are numerous foreigners, who wish to come and live in France, and we are very happy with that. Holiday makers and the retired have the opportunity. But how can it be done when you are neither of retirement age nor in work which allows for travelling easily.

Ah well, for the young executives among you there is a good solution: buy yourself a business. Almost everywhere in France, there are companies for which the managers are looking for buyers. And you mustn’t think that the fact that a business is for sale is necessarily a sign of poor economic health.

It is certainly easier to take over than to create. Yes, certainly. Yes, because if there is already a base and then, you bring new ideas and you can see some errors which have been made before, redress them, whereas when creating you start at zero.

To connect the seller and the buyer you often go through the Chamber of Commerce. In Lyon, a business market is organised every three months:

Among the sellers there are those who? many people who reach retirement age, who want to take their retirement, so they are looking for successors. With regard to the buyers, you have a lot of scope, engineers who have exhausted the joys of being in employment, in business, and who ? or who have had problems at work, for them, and (those) who seek redeployment.

For the sellers, in fact, the business must be healthy. The previous tax years are at least at the minimum, balanced, if possible positively, and they must also have a list of the very best clients for the buyer.

Well, for the buyer generally he must think of asking for help from the seller, that’s to say to negotiate support from the seller so that it happens in an orderly way and that he sees how it is done, that the seller introduces him to the clients and try to lose nothing in the handing over. That’s not easy.

Pierre Nagel is looking for an engineering business:

I have been the company director on behalf of a group for 15 years. And after that I created a company and then I wanted to diversify into other activities. So I am looking for other companies to buy.

Therefore, I have already started on a project to create a company in a new market. But, since I think I still have some time I am searching as well for a company to buy. I am doing both.

All these responsibilities, doesn’t that make you afraid?

Oh, well, no, no, no, that doesn’t make me afraid. I have done it for 15 years. It doesn’t cause me any problems. It is ? It is necessary to know how to manage stress, yes, yes, yes. It is not always stressful. There are some moments which are moments of contentment, where one has very good results, so that’s good. There are highs and lows. It’s a pleasure to run a company, yes, in certain ways, yes, yes. It’s a way of life. It is? It is? I don’t know myself, you like it or you don’t like it. Don’t do it if you don’t like it, I think because it’s not easy. It’s not always easy but it’s exciting. It is exciting work where you are never bored.

Mr Nagel is here as a private individual, but others are here representing a company. The company RETEC for example is here to give courses.

It’s for external growth, for a company that needs to develop its turnover. Our niche (perhaps slot): carpentry, wood, furniture making. The interest, that already exists, what have we to lose? We have no time to lose, you lose less time to reach the sought after goal and the goal we are looking for, is to rapidly have a number of things which correspond to the needs we have, because our company is not developing badly and it’s a bit difficult for us to work in-house.

We have almost achieved our limits, at the commercial level and by us adding another team which would be at least, as important as us, as we are now, that would permit us to develop ourselves, much quicker. So that if we look at developing in-house, we are going to make three or four times more time than we hoped.

We have a niche which is going well for us, which allows us to sell, and develop ourselves correctly. We are in the shop furniture business. There are not a great many factories in France, in this area, and it’s also for that we have difficulty finding partners.

A positive story instead then. You mustn’t believe therefore the predicted inevitable decline of western society in the face of globalisation.

No, no, no, no, there are some possibilities. Simply, you must find the niche, and, when you are in it don’t lose it. And this is our goal: to develop ourselves in order to stay well placed where we are.

In big towns like Lyon or Paris, it’s not easy to find bargains. There are many buyers in the market.

Yet it is the buyers who do not find enough companies. In general you can count three or four buyers in one session.

But in the country it is another story completely. It appears that the young dynamic managers are a bit reticent to let go their urban habits. John Paul Lombez of the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Massif Central:

I may have dossiers for exchange but I have no buyers who wish to go into rather isolated regions.

Once in the mud you find mud, it’s true but sometimes diamonds also.

We have some very, very good companies which are doing well, and others, you would say in fact that the area of their activities in which they work will not be carried into the future: subcontracting for example. There are some sub-contractors who, unfortunately, are going to finish in failure. We know that. But it’s possible to have some very good dossiers. In all areas. You know it’s the man who makes the business. You talk to me of biotechnology. You can leave the new enterprises which will not work, the fault of the leadership, to others which are going to succeed and in the sub-contracting in mechanics, there are good businesses which still live by sub-contracting mechanics. It’s the man who makes it work.

I am going to take the Wichard business. Wichard is a company which builds boats. Boat building says the sea and yet, you see, it is situated right in the middle of the Massif Central at Thiers and it has more than two hundred and fifty to three hundred workers.

And if the French youth don’t want to go to the country, you now know the solution; you look for buyers across the Channel. Just here we do not find many candidates, I have to admit, but M Lombez is starting to address the question.

Well then, perhaps because they don’t know us well, and so, we are leading an action just now with my tourism colleague to the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the Massive Central with the unusual fact of low costs. That’s to say the flying companies, on the way to Great Britain, who come from time to time to Clermont Ferrand in particular or to Limoges. And with regard to that we are going to make some presentations in London, in England, to find a route in Great Britain, for just now to see if there are some investors who will buy in our region. That’s the study.

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