In the eyes of Florence Devaux, shop manager of PADD Vallauris, Toulon and Roquebrune-sur-Argens.
Florence, your career path is atypical since you were destined for the world of sailing...
Yes, it's a strange path! I have always been passionate about sailing, until I joined the French dinghy team and did the Olympic preparation for the Seoul games in 1988. Since sailing led me to La Rochelle, I took up horse-riding intensively, which I had done as a child. At the same time, I worked at Décathlon in Niort, an experience that was a very good school for me and a revelation for business. Then I moved on to the Intersport purchasing centre, as a buyer in France and then internationally. I was always on the road, which suited me, the globe-trotting side!
How did you hear about Padd and then join it?
After my job as a buyer, I left to train as a saddler. I was living in the south of France at the time and while working at Horsewood - Padd's competitor at the time - I realised that the range of products for professionals and private individuals did not cover the region. At the same time, an advertisement for Padd appeared in a horse-riding magazine: "looking for candidates to set up shops". It was for me! I opened my first shop in 2009 in Villeneuve-Loubet (which has since moved to Vallauris), a second in Toulon in 2014 and a third in Roquebrune-sur-Argens in 2019. All in all, almost 1,000 m² serving around 3,000 customers/nearby shop.
What are the characteristics of your customers?
First of all, it is a region that has few licence holders but with a fairly high average basket. Depending on the shop, the clientele alternates between owners' stables, with high purchasing power, and small clubs, with beginners or intermediate riders. The relationship with the purchase has changed a lot since I started, due to the Internet. Customers now know what they want before they even come, but they are still attached to the exchange of information, advice and the possibility of trying out the equipment. My objective is that they come back and become loyal to our brand.
How would you describe the relationship with Padd?
Confident. We, the affiliates, are very well supported on a daily basis. This is a big plus when you start up: you don't have to buy stock, which is always a worry when you are starting out with limited cash. In terms of product range, there is a wide choice and new products are regularly added. Not to mention the brands. Our job in the shop is then to make people want to buy. This involves merchandising with a coherent facing for the presentation of the different articles, the organisation of specific operations such as Padd@Troc, My Club & Me, trips to competitions, VIP evenings... For my part, I insist a lot with my teams on the need to have a well-organised shop and to take into account the customer experience. Our customers have to feel good and understand the logic behind it.
What was the highlight of your professional life?
I have many, the birth of a shop for example is a highlight. But I have a special thought for a little ten-year-old rider who was riding at Arc-sur-Argens. She was born without legs and slipped out of her saddle, which made her practice very limited. With my sailing friends, we made her some resin supports which made her stable on the horse and allowed her to ride like everyone else. What a victory!
What is your favourite human or relational quality and your worst flaw?
Simplicity and, on the other hand, bad faith and injustice.
"Help yourself, the sky will help you. A motto borrowed from Jiminy Cricket in... Pinocchio! Which I have been following ardently for a very long time: you have to get moving, it doesn't come by itself :)... !
PADD in a word ?
Familiar. It's a great chance for me to have met them. They correspond to me, we have the same approach to work, with a predominantly human dimension. A group that makes you want to work well together.