A QUICK SECOND OPENING
– 20 september 2016 –
This past year, fifteen or so Brussels brands opened their second point of sale in the capital. These openings were bolstered by the drive of certain entrepreneurs to take on a new challenge, to delve further into their concepts and, above all, to quickly develop a customisable business model. The analysis of a new generation of risk takers.
Over the last few years, the Atrium.Brussels starters coaches observed that candidates were showing a new trader profile. These entrepreneurs, usually equipped with business or management degrees, would walk into Atrium with the ambitious idea of starting their own business. And, even more surprisingly, with the aim of flying the nest as soon as possible so they could focus solely on developing their project at every possible opportunity.
« These starters come in with a long and even very long-term vision and they follow a strategy focused on results and development, as opposed to so-called traditional entrepreneurs who wait until they have accumulated enough experience in the field before potentially considering opening a second point of sale », observes Jérémy Vanhuffelen, Atrium.Brussels trendwatcher.
Most new brands do not hang around for long before they develop. And the reason why is simple: most of these businesses were created with the aim to be transposed. Starters imagine marketed projects, a finished and customisable process that can soon run without them, even though they are aware that they will have to muck in first”, sums up Cécile Veyrié, Atrium Retail Development Consultant. These “start-uppers” rely on detailed data analysis and a solid structure that stems from a formula “that works”.
Starters imagine marketed projects, a finished and customisable process that can soon run without them.
However, Jean Hummler believes that you cannot put the cart before the horse: “Even if you have a brand image, customer base, expertise, and a reputation, you generally need three years to create a well-oiled machine”. In 2006, Jean Hummler, Moeder Lambic employee at the time, took over the drifting brand with his colleague, Nassim Dessicy, and then developed Moeder Lambic Fontainas. “We waited 3 years before starting up and we were perfectly aware of our public and their expectations.”
Jean Hummler, Manager of Moeder Lambic in Brussels
In the Horeca industry, this tendency to want to reproduce a concept that works has been bolstered by the arrival of smart casual dining. Halfway between cafeterias and restaurants and between casual and chic, this new trend allows followers to produce a simple process, and duplicating it properly in one, two or ten points of sale does not require particular skills.
Moreover, in the DIY era, the sector is no longer exclusively for “professionals”: almost everyone can slip on a chef’s hat or a grocer’s apron. The door is now open for a new world of traders with a background in marketing or communications and a strong will to expand.
And yet, trade management remains a profession in its own right. “A business equals a profession and so two businesses equals two professions and so on and so forth“, states Jean Hummler. Each point of sale is unique and only solid experience allows us to define the right process for each one.
When opening a second point of sale, we do not simply duplicate a concept. The new environment also has a role to play. Each district and each road has a customer base and its own ways of doing things. When it comes to reproducing their business, some start-uppers sometimes tend to minimise the importance of location.
Yet “when a location is an urban space, it is unique. You cannot implant a concept without taking this into account, just like when you set up a McDonald’s in an industrial area“, underlines Jean Hummler. The manager studied Brussels for quite some time before choosing where to set up his second Moeder Lambic. “The districts are not static. They regularly evolve“.
When a location is an urban space, it is unique. You cannot implant a concept without taking this into account.
Jérémy Vanhuffelen also underlines the risk of transposing groups of brands to a different location in an identical manner: “Let’s look at Flagey and Jourdan: two squares that are very close and that are home to a similar set of businesses. There is nothing innovative on offer. We need to explore other geographical areas instead of continuing to reproduce and transpose models to the same places.“
Jérémy Vanhuffelen, Atrium.Brussels trendwatcher
Both start-uppers and so-called traditional entrepreneurs seem to agree on one thing: what does not move forward moves backwards. Yet, new entrepreneurs may be even greater “risk takers” than their predecessors, explains Cécile Veyrié: “This happens a lot in marketing. They present a generally finished business plan and easily juggle various promotional and communication tools. This sharp industry knowledge allows them to take more risks at a faster pace.”
“Our job is to take risks“, concludes Jean Hummler. “Money only comes in when we take risks. In the Horeca industry, net margins are weak. Just one lockdown or a bad season is all it takes to accumulate two weeks’ loss over a whole year.” Therefore, these risks must be anticipated, for example by opening a second point of sale, even though “the loss is such that, the first year, you need to make sure that you have a healthy cash flow because banks will not back you“. If we win without risk, do we not triumph without glory?
Cécile Veyrié, Atrium.Brussels Retail Development Consultant