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Episode 3

🎙 Meet Sylvain Austry, sales manager for France at NAF, a benchmark in food supplements and horse care products.

👉 In ten years, he has helped the brand emerge on the French market and has just begun a collaboration with Ekkia.

His background? A passion for horses? The relationship with Ekkia?

From a young age, did you know that your profession would be related to horse riding? 

I started practicing at the age of 14 in Aveyron, living in Rodez. After completing my S level (scientific) baccalaureate, I went to study biology at Albi, and quickly realized that this curriculum was not suitable for me. So, I left my original region to first join Dijon, where I obtained my teaching certificate with a specialization in eventing, and later Saumur, where I became a stable rider. In 1999, I embarked on a one-year experience in England, where I had the opportunity to ride horses owned by the Olympic medalist Mark Todd. It was during this time that I began using NAF products, as his stable had a partnership with the brand. Relationships were formed, and as the brand faced challenges entering the French market, they reached out to me. This was also the time when my own horses were reaching the end of their careers, and I decided to take the plunge. This was in January 2012.

What does NAF offer, and how have your clients evolved? 

NAF focuses on everything related to the health and well-being of horses. From our laboratory in Wales, we develop nutritional formulas, dietary supplements, and care products. NAF currently has a turnover of €19.5 million and employs over 120 collaborators. We do not have direct sales points in France; instead, we rely on a network of partner distributors/retailers. Historically, our clientele consisted of professional and amateur competitive riders. However, COVID-19 changed the landscape. People had more time, refocused on their passion, and the need to take care of their horses. We emerged from the pandemic strengthened with a much broader customer base.

What are you most proud of since joining NAF?

Probably developing the distribution network from scratch, which initially required a lot of door-to-door visits to introduce products to retailers. In the early years, I easily covered 70,000 km per year. In 2012, there were three retailers; today, there are more than 250. Satisfaction also comes from the connections I make. In the same day, I can talk to a high-profile CEO, an amateur rider, or an Olympic medalist. The richness is there as well.

Your encounter with Ekkia and what it brings to you?

After the Tokyo Games, Karim Laghouag organized a reception to celebrate his bronze medal with his partners. That's where I met Pascal Gautherin and Laetitia Bourdon. It's the beginning of our shared story. NAF products were introduced at Ekkia at the beginning of the year. What does it bring me? First and foremost, the network. From late May to late July, I visited around a hundred Padd stores in France to train the teams on our products. Since then, it is not uncommon for me to be called by a salesperson looking to provide the best solution to a customer whose horse has a health or performance issue. And then, there is clearly a community of spirit. The company is highly dynamic, everything is positive, focused on evolving needs and business.

What qualities do you like in each other and what don't you like?

Firstly, open-mindedness, staying curious in all circumstances. I also appreciate it when my interlocutors remain approachable, not condescending. This is something I apply to myself. Conversely, selfishness is a significant flaw in my eyes.

Your motto? 

Never give up. But without any warlike connotation. It's not about "walking over others" but about giving oneself the means to achieve one's goals.

Ekkia in one word?


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