“A difficult year”. This is how Patrick Guilleminot, general manager of the Coop des Masques, sees Year I of the cooperative society of Graces. “We have had some disappointments, particularly vis-à-vis our user members. They pushed us to get started very quickly and, when we were ready, they got state grants. Their stock was full and they did not respond when we needed them, ”sums up the director. “I don’t blame them, it’s just the situation that is like this”.
We had logical choices, difficult to make. But economically, we couldn’t not do it.
Thus, four million FFP2 masks remained in the boxes. An unexpected difficulty, which forced the company to stop its dedicated machine in September, resulting in the dismissal of five people, as well as two in administration. “We had logical choices, difficult to make. But, economically, we could not not do it. Insofar as we had stock that we did not market, we could not continue ”.
This was combined with technical issues on the surgeons’ machine, as well as a setback for their certification. “We couldn’t produce the quantity we wanted”, slips, transparent, Patrick Guilleminot. Result: 2021 revenue of €1.1 million. About four times lower than expected.
Before, out of 100 orders, we had two from FFP2. Now 85 to 90 are FFP2
Boom des FFP2
So we had to adapt. In addition to the layoffs, “we were forced to trade, to seek customers”. Hence the opening, in September, of an online store, while the initial project was only aimed at professionals. It really exploded with the boom in FFP2 orders at the end of the year. “Before, out of 100 orders, we had two from FFP2. Now 85 to 90 are FFP2”. The shop went from around fifty orders per week to around a hundred… per day, for a monthly turnover that rose from €5,000 to €70,000.
The “big customers” then followed, and more than a million of these masks left, bringing in cash. “We are starting to see a clearer horizon, but we are not yet completely out of the rut.”
“Cautious” for 2022
For 2022, Patrick Guilleminot says he is “prudent”. Evokes a relaunch of the FFP2 machine if demand remains strong, and the rehiring that would go with it. Welcomes the impetus of the State at the level of calls for tenders from public purchasers, with European preference and new criteria: “The price is no longer the preponderant element. It’s late, but it’s positive. The Coop is still awaiting the results of calls for tenders from hospitals, which run over several years, hence their importance.
Finally, one of the objectives for 2022 is to launch the production of meltblown (filtering material used to make masks) to “no longer depend on fluctuations” in the cost of the fabric. The machine is not assembled, for lack of financial means, but the Coop is looking for industrial partners to pool its use.