A departure to the French Riviera is for some the beginning of a beautiful and sunny ‘retreat’. Others have entrepreneurial blood steaming in their veins and like to combine the useful with the pleasant. Working and living under the southern French sun is a dream for many. In the series ‘Running a business on the Côte d’Azur’ we will introduce monthly local people who have made the leap. What are they doing, what are their good and bad experiences and do they have tips for other entrepreneurs? This month, Peter and Elsie de Mik, known for their store SCAPA in Nice.
Retail meets e-tail
At the cozy Rue de Liberté in the heart of Nice, we find at number 5 the property of Peter and Elsie. For six years the address of the famous store SCAPA with the black facade. This summer, the store concept, however, was substantially amended. A soft yellow facade and a new name betray an innovative vision of retail and e-tail. Inside the shop that looks open and friendly, displays show several fashion brands including SCAPA, Myrine and the local fashion brand Victoire May.
Peter, an experienced marketing man from Netherlands says enthusiastically: “After six years SCAPA in Nice, we saw revenue declined due to the rise of online stores. We are not unique with thatt; every fashion retailer has to do with this development. You can do two things; stiff continue what you were doing, or customise your store format to the New World. And so the idea for Coco’n Shopping was born.”
Elsie, who grew up in Flanders brings in the fashion retail experience and adds: “Our shop has now become a pilot store for a pop-up shop where we give different brands the space for their collection. Due to the surprising character the collection is visible between 4 and 12 weeks, and should be in addition to the quality and service we have put down with SCAPA. And the nice thing is that brands and fashion designers are now queuing up here if it were to come to exhibit and sell! ”
The challenge for the entrepreneurial couple was: “How do we get internet buyers in our real store?” A strategy was developed and three main pillars put down.
Coco’n Shopping with the Concept Corners
The Concept Corners are specially developed multifunctional displays for both hanging or displayed products. A fashion designer or fashion brand can rent a display in Coco’n shop and fill it with the current collection.
In the shop, the product is bought and fitted. For tourists who can not bring bags full into the airplane, the Coco’n Shop is the link with the e-shop where the order is packed neatly into the warehouse and sent to the international customer.
Concept Corner Network
Fashion stores who want to make more sales per square meter and want to expand their product range with a Coco’n pop-up shop, can place one or several Concept Corner displays in their store. These are then filled with a striking contemporary fashion collection of trendy fashion products. For existing and new fashion brands this growing Concept Corner Network is an ideal way to get more sales area or to pre-test new designs.
Coco’n Online Premium
The Coco’n Shopping store in Nice is busy talking with fashion e-tailers which admittedly have many sales, but also get many items returned. Major online fashion shops such as Zalando and ASOS are struggling with high returns (average 30-40%) and asearching fro innovative solutions. With Coco’n Online Premium, online shoppers can have a service where the order is picked up in a Coco’n Shop. Here the customer is additionally aided by a fashion advice and one can have a garment retouched so it fits perfectly. For online stores, optimisation and management of the returns is a hot item. Concept Corner network jumps into a actual problem and comes up with a solution that provides added value for both customers, the stone stores and online shops.
The concept of Coco’n Shopping sounds smart, lubricated and fast forward thinking. Did your start on the French Riviera was also that smoothly?
Elsie laughs out loud and looks at her husband: “Well, how shall we say it? We are fortunate that we are used to the Belgian administrative system. So the shock of so many papers and rules, was not too bad for us. But such a high paper burden will be quite a shock for anyone else. So you just have to persevere if you’re just starting. ”
You are now in Nice for six years running. What are your three tips for starting entrepreneurs in Southern France?
Running a business on the Côte d’Azur – TIP 1
Pieter: “First of all, do not be guided by the fear of the French. French are afraid of everything and seeing more problems than opportunities. Sometimes you have just have to do things. ”
Running a business on the Côte d’Azur – TIP 2
Elsie: “As an entrepreneur you can lose a lot of time to ask for something in advance. You can better do it and not wait for an official to find time and sense to give consent. The moment you make a formal application, the rules are not always clear to the authorities and speak regularly at. You don’t want to end up in that discussion.”
Do create a dossier, but don’t send it. Make use of the knowledge that places have people who prefer to do nothing.”
Running a business on the Côte d’Azure – TIP 3
Peter: “What is also very important: invest time in the society. That is maybe the most important thing. Elsie has been president of the local Merchants Association. It takes her a lot of time, but also provides a link with the local community. And if you drink a glass of wine with Estrosi, it’s easier to talk about certain things.”
Living and working on the French Riviera; What is your most disappointing experience?
There they both do not take long to think about: “People are generally not very enterprising. Free creative thinking is lacking, which we found a pity. ”
And what was is the best experience you have so far?
Pieter: “That is the quality of life. You work hard, but on the other hand, we live here in a wonderful place in the sun.” Elsie:” You really get de-stressed here. Everything goes in a snail’s pace, even traffic.”
Finally, where do you see yourself living and working in ten years?
Peter: “I’m an entrepreneur so I always switch with opportunities in society. But I think we still have live on the Côte d’Azur. Elsie: “I think that Nice will still be our home base but we give a lot of international presentations on the Coco’n Shopping concept.”
5, rue de la Liberté
+33 (0) 493 01 58 29