“Erasing the sacred boss-employee bond…”: Near Rouen, the Bihorel bakery breaks the codes

“Erasing the sacred boss-employee bond…”: Near Rouen, the Bihorel bakery breaks the codes

The baker Alexandre Vilain likes to undertake and that’s also why he wanted to no longer be the only master on board. Buyer in 2017 of the family business “Maison Vilain” – at only 18 years old and while it was in semi-liquidation – he first put the bakery-pastry shop in Bihorel, near Rouen, back on track. To consider new projects and further involve its loyal employees, it has just teamed up with 12 of them.

In July 2022, his bakery therefore became a Sarl Scop (Cooperative production company), without any further ties of subordination. Governance is shared, even if this son and grandson of bakers trained in management and administration remains a kind of “team leader” more experienced than the others: “I wanted to create a new framework, not common , by erasing as much as possible the sacred employer-employee bond”, says Alexandre Vilain, now 28 years old. “I’m still a bit of a driving force behind the business, but everyone has also specialized according to their skills. And in the end, we put all our ideas together, we talk about it and we make the decision together, on a daily basis”.

“It gives more confidence”

From two employees when it was taken over, the bakery specializing in homemade and local products now has 27. The cooperative model and collective management seem to be working and the company is doing well. “The roles have to be well defined. Everything is going well even if, as in a small family, there can be tensions”, notes the baker, aware “that by investing all together in this way, we can project ourselves over four to five years. It gives more confidence in the future”.

The bakery continues to change and develop. Alexandre Vilain has involved his customers in the development of the company, so that they take part in major decisions, offering the possibility to some of them to participate in general meetings and to become shareholders of the store thanks to participating securities.

Bakery training will also be offered on its premises in 2024, “a kind of second-chance school, for a sector that is experiencing major labor shortages”. For a few weeks, the bakery has also been labeled a recognized integration company, so that the “production laboratory serves as a lever for the integration of young people in difficulty”.


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