"The nuggets of the Spirits Valley" episode #1: Laurent Becquart places the group BK'ART in orbit.


I) First stage: developing the existing (2013-2015)

Laurent Becquart is the founding father of the BK'Art group created in 2020 and which brings together various companies from the world of packaging, including Cognac Emballages Services, based opposite Grey Goose in Gensac. CES is the first stage of the rocket that will propel the entire holding company among the key players in the packaging industry...

Seduced by the company's potential in 2013, he sold his house and left a permanent contract as a printing engineer to take over the copacking activity, which then had a turnover of €270,000 and 4 employees. His initial objective was achieved: to find a company whose activity he masters and of which he can acquire 100% of the capital.

These are mainly manual operations, delicate and sometimes tedious, difficult to mechanize and requiring a lot of manpower: custom packaging (assembly of promotional boxes, applying labels to bottles or cases, applying tax stamps, compliance) and flat printing (re-covering on cases, boxes, crates).
 

Changing the shipping crate
Case assembly
Promotional pack assembly

Very quickly the historic site (200m2) became too small for the ambition of Laurent Becquart who took advantage of the program set up by Grand Cognac to move to a business incubator with 400m2 of premises available in 2015. He invested in a shrink-wrapping machine and won new customers, with turnover rising from 400,000€ to 800,000€ between 2014 and 2015 and the number of employees rising from 4 to 30.

He also wins the Business Takeover Award in 2016, when he canvasses to find a site that fits the size of his projects.. Because the premises of the business incubator are already so undersized that it is sometimes necessary to carry out certain operations outside .

 

II) Second stage: a 1300m2 site up to the challenges (2016-2018)

This is done in the summer of 2016 when CES moves into an ultra modern and functional 1300m2 warehouse in Gensac, opposite Grey Goose and Bouchages Delages. Newspaper headlines are ecstatic and speak of 'dazzling ascent'.

1300 m2 available for all your projects

Laurent Becquart does not slow down the pace and invests in new equipment, organizes airy workstations allowing employees to work serenely and consolidates its position within the Spirits Valley with several assets:

- now the ability to personalise packaging is deployed using several printing techniques, a unique offer in the Charente: screen printing, hot foil stamping or pad printing (addition of legal notices, importers and creation of limited series).

- a structured and personalized organization with an organizational chart integrating a supply chain manager in liaison with customs and customers to ensure traceability.

- reactivity of the team, expandable to ensure fast and quality production.

Installation of light pads
Repositioning of the case
Putting on film

Far from stopping there, Laurent Becquart decided to continue the expansion of the company, which would achieve a turnover of €1.6 million in 2018. However, CES is surrounded by a Natura 2000 zone that cannot be built on. It is therefore impossible to enlarge the premises. No problem, however, it will acquire other companies elsewhere...

 

III) Third step: diversify and complete its offer (2018-2021)

His first acquisition is Pyrénées Dorure Découpe based next to Pau, conforming to its policy of investing in 'made in France' craft companies. It is already well established in the world of luxury goods with Hermès as a long-standing client, as well as in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food and spirits, sectors that are doing well.

 

Thus Laurent Becquart is widening the range of services by integrating hot stamping, curved gilding and embossing, while remaining in line with the artisanal philosophy of the packaging decoration trade. To this end, he invested in a laminating machine and a screen printing machine the following year. His objective was to offer all the operations that go beyond the classic packaging circuit: printing, cutting and folding-glueing.

With Pyrénées Dorure Découpe, it is positioned after printing and before cutting on operations with high added value. The turnover thus jumps again to reach 3.5 million € in 2020, the year of the acquisition of the Alket design studio and the GB Façonnage contract manufacturer near Angoulême.
 

Always on the move, he seems to be constantly several moves ahead of the game when it comes to making a decision. No doubt that his next projects will still make the headlines in local newspapers, which are wondering about the meteoric rise of the companies he is acquiring.

A true adventurer at heart, Laurent Becquart is nonetheless an outstanding manager, attentive to the smallest details and who leaves nothing to chance. Let's try to understand how he juggles with these two characteristics whose combination would in fact be the recipe for his success...

 

IV) Leadership interview with Laurent Becquart.

1- What are your favorite activities?

The activities related to printing are numerous and make me vibrate! It's a concrete job where we transform and embellish sheets of paper and cardboard, sometimes almost turning them into artistic works of art, boxes designed to package and showcase the most beautiful products.

 

2- Which book influenced you the most?

"Anapurna, Premier 8000" by Maurice Herzog, a well-known mountaineer who in 1958 became Secretary of State for Youth and Sport and then Mayor of Chamonix.
Apart from all the polemic surrounding this book to know which of Maurice Herzog or Louis Lachenal, his teammate, was really the first to climb a summit of more than 8000m altitude on June 3, 1950; I appreciate the adventurer, the taste for risk and challenge that emerges from it. It was a real adventure with political stakes at the time because several countries were fighting in a race in which their respective nationals had to be the first to reach a summit of more than 8000m.
We're talking about a time when maps were very imprecise, when no one had ever been to a place with rudimentary equipment.

 

First 8000 climbed in 1950 by a French expedition whose country at the end of the 2nd GM is under reconstruction.
One of the first maps of the Annapurna Massif (1954) Source: http://expes.varax.net/cartes/Nepal/
The same massif with a recent map (2002) Source : http://expes.varax.net/cartes/Nepal/

3- Which mission did you like the most?

The takeover of a first company is undoubtedly the most striking moment, the discovery and learning of entrepreneurship is very rich. You learn, you fall, you get up and you move forward. 
 

4- Do you have a method to facilitate decision making?

I share a lot of power, I make sure that I set a course and leave it to my teams to set the terms and conditions to get there. Sharing and taking responsibility are the keys to developing autonomy and thus helping the company to grow.
 

5- What is your most formative failure?

I was fortunate to have an easy first few years when I started my first business. It earned me a few paybacks afterwards. I make a lot of mistakes every day, but the most important thing is to take the measure of them quickly to adapt the course and put the sails back to windward.

 

6- Can you share your secret behind your discipline as an outstanding manager?

Yes, I know my mathematical operation tables by heart!
 

7- How much of your time do you spend on strategic intelligence to keep an eye on what is happening in the spirits?

When you have your first company, you build up a network that allows you to know what's going on behind the other companies' signs. Otherwise, I keep a very strategic eye on the spirits in the evenings from 7:00 p.m.......................................... at cocktail hour! 

 

8- What is the original vision of the BK'Art group ? Is there a real upstream acquisition strategy behind the realization of this holding company ?

I don't really like to stay in my comfort zone and I'm curious, it's in my nature, I can't explain it, so it's being transformed by acquisitions and could soon be followed by the creation of a company still linked to the printing industry.
 

9- What advice would you give to an entrepreneur or start-up company that is starting to create a new range of spirits?

The beauty of any project is to work on the distribution strategy, I know it's no fun but it's really the key to success.
How can you make your business profitable if you have a great project without having the means to distribute it and therefore sell it? 
 

 

JÉRÔME SAVOYE

 

Contact us for any development of spirits, packaging and tailor-made services for your company (organisational support, pack development, quality control, drafting of product sheets, etc.).

 

Start-ups and entrepreneurs wishing to create new spirits can download the spirit development mind map for free here :

https://www.myspiritfactory.com/

 


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