The change is presented as “an unprecedented adventure”. Since last November, the two Biocoop Konkar’bio stores have changed hands. Ninog Le Bot, who created the Kerampéru brand in 2015 and that of the city center in 2018, both under the status of limited liability companies belonging to the Biocoop network, handed over to a trio of Breton cooperatives: Les Sept Épis, from Lorient; The Belz Season, from Belz; and Finisterra, which manages nine stores in Nord-Finistère.
“The first step is to merge the two stores in Concarneau into a single cooperative entity,” explains Lionel Thomas, the brand new president of Konkar’Bio. A “transition” stage, before pushing the cooperative approach even further. “Ultimately, in five, six or seven years, the objective is for us to leave and for this Concarneau entity to be completely autonomous. With a management carried by a new cooperative structure which would integrate the employees and the producers, by associating the consumers”.
A new director
Who says change of hands, also says new director. Since November, Benoit Gaussens has taken the helm of Konkar’Bio. An organic activist who crossed France to join the adventure. Coming from Auxerre, in the Yonne, he has fifteen years of experience in the field and until then ran a consumer cooperative.
In Concarneau, the team is made up of fourteen employees: eight in Kerampéru and six in the town centre. With, for the first store, an annual turnover of 2 M€, and 1.2 M€ place Charles-de Gaulle.
“We are part of the long term”
This new organization allows, according to officials, a return to the cooperative spirit that presided over the creation of the Biocoop network in 1986. But not only. “It’s also a regional project,” emphasizes Mikaël Coroller, who heads the Sept Épis cooperative. In the long term, associating producers with the project would also allow the development of organic in the sector”. “We are entering into the principle of the social and solidarity economy”, adds Benoit Gaussens.
And for consumers? “We are committed to the long term, to sustainability,” explains the new director. The profits are used to develop the business, not for anything else”. And to recall that “all the oldest of the 750 stores of the Biocoop network, established in France, are cooperatives”.
Rejuvenation in Kerampéru
On the investment side, it is the store in the Kerampéru area which should be the first to receive attention from the new owners. “It needs a facelift, better visibility, better signage,” notes Lionel Thomas.
For the rest, nothing changes. “The Biocoop specifications are 100% organic, seasonal, and priority given to local producers,” recalls the president. Konkar’Bio thus works, among others, with the Bretagne Bio Meat and BioBreizh networks. Without forgetting the “equitable dimension”, to which Benoit Gaussens is particularly attached.