Let’s admit a little disappointment! The Parisian headquarters of the Éric Kayser house does not smell of hot bread. It is not from a bakery but from offices near Luxembourg that the 57-year-old man manages a small, golden and crisp empire.
A quarter of a century after opening a first neighborhood store on rue Monge, in the 5and Parisian arrondissement, its name appears on the storefronts of 350 bakeries across 27 countries. In Japan or Mexico (more than 30 stores in each of these states), in the United States or Nigeria, via Israel, Éric Kayser has become an ambassador for French bread.
“I think I had this dream of opening bakeries around the world from a very young age, a bit like a mission”, entrusts this great-grandson of a miller. Starting an apprenticeship at the age of 16, Éric Kayser joined the Compagnons du Tour de France after serving as a blue helmet in Lebanon in the early 1980s. To remain faithful to the spirit of companionship, he dedicated for many years to training, in particular at the National Institute of Baking and Pastry.
It was there that he developed, with another trainer, a machine to facilitate the use of liquid sourdough in the manufacture of bread, a mode of fermentation then in the process of being forgotten. He decides to start his first business. Success is there and the openings follow one another, first in France then abroad, starting with Japan in 2001. The next opening outside our borders should offer its breads and pastries in Panama, this summer. .
International now represents more than 80% of stores. “Only” about sixty are established in France. French bakeries, except for a handful in train stations or airports, are owned by the group, and all their staff are salaried. This is not the case outside France, where about half of the establishments are in the form of licenses with an entry fee, then the payment of royalties according to turnover. “We provide them with our know-how, training, choice of locations and even design”, explains Eric Kayser for whom each bakery is a small craft business.
The emblematic products remain everywhere the Monge baguette, named after the name of the street where the saga began, or even the croissant. But each country has its specific tastes with unequal sales of certain products. If the famous Monge is all the rage in France, the Japanese would find it too hard on the palate because of its crust.