En cadence with Yann
Yann, you are the B2C sales director of Padd and a member of the Ekkia board. What is your history with the brand ?
I have always been involved in the world of horse riding. After studying agriculture in Normandy, and being an experienced rider, I became manager of the stable of international rider Gilles Bertran de Balanda. For 7 years, I travelled around Europe and rode 6 to 8 hours a day. I had to manage the training of the thirty or so horses, the trips, the competitions... Fascinating and very demanding! As I had a real passion for equipment, I naturally ended up crossing paths with Pascal (editor's note: Gautherin, CEO of Ekkia). He had the idea of creating a concept of a shop-truck to go and meet customers and promote Padd. And here I am, off on the adventure. Then I opened the Rouen shop, which worked well straight away, not surprisingly since I had been travelling around the region for years. This was followed by a 12-year interlude with a French saddler specialising in the manufacture of made-to-measure saddles and then a return to my roots in 2014 to take over the commercial management of Padd.
What is your scope of work ?
I'm in charge of the 42 branch shops, which operate on a fully integrated basis, unlike the 50 or so franchisees. The HR aspect is particularly important: recruitment, training and day-to-day support for the 140 employees. The advantage is that we all speak the same language because they are all riders and our job is above all a passion. I try to keep the Padd spirit alive through them: a loyal relationship (we sold to the grandmother, now to the mother and daughter) and proximity (we know their horses, we know what will suit them in terms of equipment). The new recruits very quickly become the best ambassadors for the brand. Internal promotion works, since it is our employees who take over the management of the shops or who wish to go their own way by taking out a franchise.
What do you have to offer the Padd customer to keep them loyal ?
At the very beginning, Padd only had a clientele of experienced riders. With the boom in horse riding, the clientele of first-time riders is now just as important. Our strengths? The depth of the range, which allows us to address both trail riders and competition riders. Sales advice has always been our trademark. We remain the "meeting place for riders" as our advertising slogan above the sign indicates. The rise of digital technology is not incompatible with the development of shops, which may seem paradoxical. Our customers find equipment on the internet and come into the shop to try it out or to compare their opinion with that of our expert sales staff. It is also up to us to give them good reasons to visit us regularly, for example with the Padd@troc, for second-hand equipment, or the Créativ'bar, our customisation tool.
What has been a highlight since you started at Padd ?
Without hesitation, the World Games in Caen in 2014. I was returning to Padd and we took on the challenge of dressing the 3000/4000 volunteers of the organisation. The little green men were seen all over the world, a great communication operation.
What is your favourite human or relational quality and your worst flaw ?
Dedication. When an alarm rings at 2am, or a checkout malfunctions in a shop 1,000 miles away, we have to be able to reach the teams. They save our asses at all times. What I hate most of all is bad faith. I don't want to waste my time with that.
Your motto ?
Care about your fellow man.
Ekkia in a word ?
Padd in a word ?