In this series, our collaborator Carolyne Brown meets the Local Talents—flagship stores in the heart of Mail Champlain. These interviews are all about sharing, sincerity and proximity. We invite you to enter their world and discover who they are.
Let’s meet Hervé Bigeni, President of Boulangerie Ange Canada
I knew one of the founders of a well-known bakery in France. He offered me to join them. I opened three bakeries fairly quickly, which I still own in France. Four years later, the franchisor offered me to expand internationally. I had young children and I thought going abroad would be a great experience. So I accepted the challenge for Quebec, since it is a French-speaking province. In June 2018, we opened the first Boulangerie Ange in Boucherville.
Is being an entrepreneur a profession or a vocation?
I can't talk about a vocation because I learned about the entrepreneurial profession later in life. It was around the age of 40 that I realized that I no longer wanted to work for a company, but rather for myself. By being an entrepreneur, I discovered that I would have liked to do this earlier, because I find it very interesting to develop a business, create jobs, etc.
What makes your brand stand out?
The first thing that sets us apart is our prices. The Ange concept did not exist in Quebec, especially for our promotional offers. We offer lunch menus through trio promotions. We tried to enter the market at a lower price than our competitors, and this, with quality products. We make everything on-site, including our pastries, breads, pizzas, sandwiches and salads. Plus, our labs are open plan, allowing our customers to see all of our products being made. At Boulangerie Ange's, the product is the true focus of the bakery - it's placed front and centre. There are no baguettes hidden behind our counters. We have a complete offer for every part of the day. In fact, Boulangerie Ange was included in the Wow 2021 list of the best in-store experiences in Quebec.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in your career as an entrepreneur?
Our biggest challenge was that we initially wanted to copy the concept of our bakeries in France. Quite quickly, I realized that this was not the right strategy because these are completely different markets. For example, in France, the French go home every day with a baguette from a bakery. It's part of their daily consumption habits. The French eat bread all day long, whereas Quebecers can just buy a loaf of bread at the grocery store at the beginning of the week without going to the bakery. Here, pastries work extraordinarily well, our ready-to-eat lunches are very popular and bread is starting to become popular. We had to consider the different tastes of Quebecers. I had to adapt and see what they like.
What is the biggest lesson that business ownership has taught you?
My biggest lesson was learning about Quebec and consumer habits in a very short period of time. For example, Valentine's Day and Halloween are celebrated very differently in France.
What keeps you passionate about your field?
Developing something is gratifying, all the efforts you make are rewarded at the end. If all goes well, we'll soon have between 6 and 8 stores in Quebec. This makes me want to go further. One day I would like to become one of the leaders in this field. I'm looking to quickly become a major player in the Quebec market.
What advice would you give to a future entrepreneur?
You have to believe in what you're doing. You must believe in the product and the concept, and then take the plunge even if at first it doesn't work out the way you were hoping. You have to adapt and make adjustments; you also have to roll up your sleeves, evolve and try. That's the recipe I used - as well, you need to have people you can follow and rely on. You can't succeed alone, you always succeed with others.
What do you hope that people remember about your company?
They remember the quality of the products we provide. I always tell my team that we must focus on quality and service. I want my store window to look great at all times, so that even the afternoon customer will be satisfied with the variety of products displayed in the window. I always say to my staff: let's do our job.
It depends on the bakery. Everything depends on where the shop is located, because market shares are different. The best-sellers in all our bakeries are croissants, pies, specialty bread and pizza.
What is your best-kept secret?
Our concept is to be as transparent as possible. But obviously, I don't want to reveal some of our recipes.
To continue to develop our brand and quickly become a player in the Quebec market. The recipe for success is to be strict about what is important: product quality, service, store cleanliness, etc. Become flawless! The customer must feel that he is getting a good deal.