Fences and gates
Fences and gates
A regional player in distress
Eurofence was founded in 1972 in Doulevant-le-Château, a town of 390 inhabitants in the Haute-Marne region. It designs, produces and sells industrial fencing and metal gates. A truly local player, it developed with the help of several family funds over roughly 20 years. Then, in 2005, it was sold to a Swedish investment group, which renamed the company Perimeter Protection France. Unfortunately, its financial results slowed and cash flow problems got progressively worse. Staff were worried. “When we saw difficulties emerging, we expected the company to file for bankruptcy,” says Jean-Pierre Perrard, the Financial Manager at the time. The staff were right: on 2 December, 2016, the firm filed for bankruptcy, making 82 people unemployed. “We talked to four employees about a project to relaunch the company because we thought we had the tools and the know-how to do it,” adds Pierre.
The watchword: solidarity
A common pot was created internally to relaunch the business, to which were added redundancy bonuses and business creation funds from the Pôle emploi (French Job Centre). Nearly a million euros was collected internally to save the company. News of this wave of solidarity spread across the region, and it grew. The company received help to the tune of €200,000 from the Grand-Est region; le Crédit coopératif and the Caisse d’épargne (major French banks) made loans of €400,000 each. Thanks to a recommendation from the Eastern Regional Union of Co-operative Societies, the company got in touch with France Active Champagne-Ardenne and obtained a loan of €300,000. In total, more than €3.3 million was collected, which enabled the company to be rebought as a co-operative, reclaiming the name Eurofence with the added SCOP (Co-operative Society) on 8 December, 2016.
Because it’s our project
A total of 60 staff, who became shareholders, fought to save their jobs. The company was relaunched as a co-operative to avoid the problems of physically distant and remote management that were part of the old system. “Eurofence did not hire everyone back, but everyone who wanted to be part of the project was brought on board,” explains Jean-Pierre Perrard. Management set an objective of €13 million in revenues. To reach this goal, Eurofence SCOP is looking to hire new people. “We were faced with a need for a bigger workforce. So we recruited three more people shortly after taking over the company. In high season, we have 82 staff members, and around 76 to 77, including apprentices, during low season. The company is now getting ambitious. It is modernising its production with the purchase of a machine that eliminates the need for a sub-contractor. The staff have never given up. Their solidarity created a group success, as evidenced by the creation of a Cop-operative.
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