TGS France franchise success story, Finsbury.

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These shoes were made for walking: 100 million euros in sales by 2023-2024

A recent article in “Décideurs”, reports on one of TGS France customers; Finsbury, a leader in shoes for men. TGS France have recently become advisors of the Finsbury franchise and are helping them to go global.

From entrepreneur to CEO

The success of certain brands is sometimes the result of entrepreneurs with an extraordinary track record. Arnaud Bruillon, CEO of Finsbury, is one of them.

Arnaud Bruillon is a self-made man. He started working as an employee for Finsbury then became shop manager, then asked the owners if he could open his first franchised shop. Arnaud went on to open 7 shops between 2001 and 2010.

But he did not stop there, thanks to the financial support of his bank and Bpifrance, he has recently bought the brand.

Today, Finsbury has 72 stores worldwide.

Finsbury is actively seeking retail partners in the Middle East, China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, North America, the United Kingdom and Europe.

A flagship store that has just opened in Brussels and two branches will soon be opened in Luxembourg.

I liked the product so much, I bought the company.

Arnaud Bruillon, CEO of Finsbury

In what year did the first Finsbury boutique open in France?

Finsbury was once a luxury shoe factory in the north of England, a small brand of a small factory. The first boutique in France opened in 1986 in the Opéra district of Paris. The brand’s promise was to offer shoes made by craftsmen, of high quality, but at affordable prices. The success was immediate.

What has been your personal strategy to make this company evolve?

My entrepreneurial story is that of a “self-made-man” salesman who evolved to the position of store manager. After a career as a model employee, I offered the owners of the brand to open my first exclusive franchise. Not without difficulty, my personal bank finally trusted me thanks to my pugnacity. I created seven Finsbury franchises between 2001 and 2010. Having become an important player in the company, I naturally offered to buy the brand and the stores from the founders at a price they could not refuse. Thanks to the confidence of my bank and Bpifrance, with whom I raised an LBO debt, by reinvesting everything I had earned as a franchisee, I was able to build a solid group with the ambition of opening 50 stores by 2017. Finsbury finally opened 60! As a result, I began a second cycle of international growth.

How many employees does the company employ today?

Approximately 200 people work for Finsbury to date, including franchisees. I also surrounded myself with a top management to accompany the growth and in 2017 I had the new Finsbury head office built with an area of 4,000 square meters.

Who are your customers?

Finsbury is appreciated by a business clientele, but any man sensitive to elegance and concerned about his comfort can become a customer. Thanks to the brand’s “accessible premium” positioning, the panel is very broad and the clientele is extremely loyal.

Who designs the collections?

The “collectionning” is carried out at the company’s headquarters in Paris. The creative director relies on the style offices of our factories. We offer many exclusive materials and colours, including hand-made patinas. The Consul model is our iconic model, sold in more than 100 000 copies since its creation.

From cutting to packaging, how many steps are needed, on average, to make a Finsbury shoe?

The process is entirely artisanal: 180 to 220 manual operations are necessary to manufacture a pair of shoes. Our know-how is based on the use of skins from the best French tanneries and two assembly techniques, the “Goodyear sewn” and the “Blake sewn”. From cutting the skins, to sewing the soles with poisse linen thread for optimal strength, a shoe can sometimes pass between the hands of 26 different companions.

What are your plans for the brand in 2018-2020?

My business plan plans in the medium term to double our store base to 100 million euros in sales by 2023-2024. With 72 stores, a flagship store just opened in Brussels and the forthcoming opening of two branches in Luxembourg, we are actively seeking retail partners in the Middle East, China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, North America, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Read the entire interview in Décideurs magazine here.

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