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Beer [B]

Bottled English Ales in France

I found one similar question from back in 2011 and have asked for an update, but not sure the poster is still active, so here's my question...

Our plan is to move to the Charente/Gironde area to run a gite or two.

Realising that this will generate a limited income and that actual job prospects for Brits are pretty much non-existent, my plan is to import a good range of English ales to sell online, via wholesale to bars and restaurants, and/or on a market stall.

The range of beers includes good standard session bitters, stronger ales, golden varieties and a stout.

Would there be a demand from either expats or French nationals and what would you expect to pay for a 500ml bottle?

During a trip in September, I saw Marstons Pedigree in a bar, priced at €5 - presumably retail would need to be slightly below this and carriage costs for online sales would need to be offset.

I'd appreciate any feedback and look forward to hearing from you.

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Re: Bottled English Ales in France

I know nothing about the demand, but unless they've subsequently folded (which may also answer the question regarding demand) there used to be a similar operation already in existence in the Deux Sevres area of Poitou Charentes. It's a bit off my patch as we are in Charente Maritime, but worth seeing if you can find them.
My gut reaction is that it's probably a legislative minefield, as I can imagine it would be anywhere, what with the thorny additional issues of excise duty etc.

Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
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Re: Bottled English Ales in France

Thanks "Betty"

I'll have a search.

I appreciate the beurocracy will be an issue, but I do have family with experience of the UK to EU drinks distribution scene (whisky), so advice is at hand on that side of things.

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Re: Bottled English Ales in France

Does your family have experience of running a French business, or is their distribution business based in the UK?
If you live in France you would need to set up a French business structure, AE would be no good for this. You need to work out what your business taxes and social charges and other overheads would be, and see if you would be able to undercut 5€ a bottle and still make a profit. I don't know but I suspect that if you as a French company are competing with UK companies who ship beers to France, you're going to be at a disadvantage to start with. You'll have no doubt read in the papers all about how France's economy is struggling because small businesses are stifled and prevented from being competitive, well this is exactly the culture that you would be up against.
I imagine in some areas of France demand would be practically non-existent, in other areas there would be a pretty good demand provided you have the French marketing skills to exploit it.

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Re: Bottled English Ales in France

Thanks for the input.

It is indeed the taxes and social charges that will be the potential killer and as you rightly say, I need to find out what those would be in detail - any suggestions as to information sources?

Heat, light and broadband will also have an impact.

The actual costings for the goods including VAT, duty and freight indicate that I can make a decent margin before overheads, so I'm encouraged to put the time into finding out about the rest.

My brother is in the Scottish whisky trade, but cut his teeth in Europe, so will have a fairly good grasp - enough to help me with the bureaucracy anyway.

Thanks again - I'll proceed with caution!

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Re: Bottled English Ales in France

If you seriously want to do this I would suggest you discuss it with a business adviser at your chambre de commerce.
Other posters will no doubt come along and say No No No French business advisers are rubbish - but in my experience, they are brilliant. You can read up on all the rules and regulations until your head spins but they understand how it works in practice. They know immediately what the tipping factors are going to be for your business, what you have to focus on and what you don't need to even waste your time considering.
Bonne chance.
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Re: Bottled English Ales in France

I'll have to get the advice whilst still here in UK, as the move depends on the viability of the overall project.

The wife will be reluctant to move without a concrete plan for an income over and above any gite rental activity, as should I.

Meanwhile, anyone out there with insight on the potential demand?

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Re: Bottled English Ales in France

But that's the crux of starting a business, isn't it - how good are you at creating and stimulating demand? There's never any upfront guarantee that a business is going to work, it's all down to luck, but funnily enough you usually find that it's the people who work hardest and understand how to market and sell their products that have all the luck. Some people can sell ice to Eskimos and some people would struggle to sell them a fur coat (I'm one - I'm not a salesperson and I know it).
You might want to focus your range a bit more sharply. That's a lot of different products to whip up an interest in.
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