“Since March, it’s Christmas!”: Confinements and curfews have made the happiness of Planet’Puzzles, an online jigsaw puzzle site which is now betting on the relocation of production in France to continue its momentum.
“When Emmanuel Macron spoke to close schools, our turnover exploded”, remembers Éric Lathière-Lavergne, the boss of Planet’Puzzles, in Behren-lès-Forbach, in Moselle.
“We had to close the site because there had been too many requests. Seven days later we reopened and a quarter of an hour later we had to close. Something crazy!”, He adds.
Boosted by the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic, the turnover of the company, which generates 35% of its sales in France and 32% in Germany, jumped from 7 million euros in 2019 to nearly 10 , 8 million in 2020. A little more than a million boxes were sold, of which a majority of puzzles of 1000 pieces, the heart of the market.
For 2021, Mr. Lathière-Lavergne expects a “turnover of 10 to 12 million euros” even if it is “possible that things will calm down”.
– 54,000 pieces –
His goal: to establish his company as the number two in the sector in Europe behind the German Ravensburger, which holds, according to him, “70% of the market”.
In this fight with Ravensburger, Planet’Puzzles has already come to titillate the German giant. In 2017, the Moselle company had snatched from him “the record for the largest puzzle in the world with a copy of 48,000 pieces”.
Last year, she improved her record with “a 54,000 pieces” (8.64 mx 2.04 m). Delivered in a suitcase, this giant puzzle represents an imaginary gallery of celebrated works of art. Price: 499 euros.
To date, the manufacture of puzzles in France is on the verge of extinction. There are still many productions here and there such as these handcrafted wooden puzzles made in Burgundy. But for its own brands, Planet’Puzzles relocates to Turkey, Poland or Slovakia.
Mr. Lathière-Lavergne’s idea is to relocate production to France. So he acquired “European” machines for 2.5 million euros, 650,000 of which come from the government stimulus plan.
Seven recruitments are planned for the summer when production starts. Ten other hires are planned by the end of the year in this company currently “26, 27 employees”, according to Mr. Lathière-Lavergne, who estimates that he should recruit “about twenty people , or even more in 2022 “.
– Passion without limit –
“The puzzle is a relatively simple product. You have to print a poster, stick it on cardboard, cut it with a specific press, assemble the box and wrap it with plastic film”, he explains, specifying that he wants to achieve a production capacity of 2.5 million boxes per year.
The machines will be installed in a room just in front of the anonymous warehouse occupied by Jigsaw Puzzle, not far from the Franco-German border, where for a year now activity has not weakened.
With the Christmas holidays, the company recorded a peak of “7,000 orders in one day”, rejoices the boss. The choices of consumers, “95% adults”, are divided between works of art (Dali, Klimt, Van Gogh, Bruegel …), fantastic series, monuments and landscapes.
“Purchases depend on social classes”, laughs Mr. Lathière-Lavergne, taking the example of Klimt who will rather make the happiness “of a CSP +”, the higher socio-professional categories.
The passion for puzzles has no limit. The puzzle can turn into a puzzle. The unicoloured white, black … of 1,000 or 2,000 pieces were the great successes of containment. They are out of stock.
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