Petit Bateau sanctuary its historic factory in Troyes

By Juliette Garnier

Posted today at 09:40, updated at 10:48

The print is flowery. It will be used for making panties. Since September, a new digital printer has been running in the Petit Bateau factory located in Troyes (Aube). At the rate of 120 to 130 meters per hour, this inkjet machine deposits a pattern on a pre-treated unbleached cotton knit, before polymerization. Over a year, “She should have printed 400 kilometers of knitting”, specifies John Bredemestre, responsible for the knitting, dyeing and printing workshops of this subsidiary of the Yves Rocher group.

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This investment – 600,000 euros, including the construction of the workshop and the training of three specialists in screen printing – is part of a plan to modernize the historic factory of the children’s fashion brand; over two years, 2 million euros will be invested in new equipment. Petit Bateau had been thinking about it for a long time. Everything accelerated in the spring, during the deployment of the France Relance plan by the government to support the modernization of the French industry.

An employee in the knitting workshop at the Petit Bateau factory in Troyes, France, October 27, 2021.
One hundred seamstresses work in the clothing workshop of the Petit Bateau factory in Troyes on October 27, 2021. They produce between 300,000 and 500,000 pieces per year.

The company obtained financing to the tune of 900,000 euros. The rest comes from its own funds. Without state aid, this purchase would have been “Shifted”, specifies the general manager of the brand, Guillaume Darrousez, a few days after the official inauguration of this equipment, on October 4, in the presence of François Baroin, LR mayor of Troyes, and Stéphane Rouvé, prefect of Aube.

“It is about maintaining productive employment in Troyes”

Soon, the manufacturer of children’s fashion should also acquire an automated cutting table, to reduce scrap, and semi-automatic sewing machines. In the amount of 3 million euros, a second investment will relate to the “decarbonisation of dyeing” for which the brand has obtained 920,000 euros in aid from the Ademe Ecological Transition Agency and the France Relance plan. In 2022 and 2023, the brand, whose motto is now “Freedom, quality, sustainability”, will acquire dyeing machines with better performance, less energy and more water.

The stakes are high in this region marked by the disappearance of the Absorba factory, following the liquidation of the Kidiliz group at the end of 2020. “It is about maintaining productive employment in Troyes”, explains Jean-Marc Guillemet, director of operations at Petit Bateau. The subsidiary of the Yves Rocher group, a giant in cosmetic products, is thus seeking to emerge from a bad patch. At the head of 300 million euros in turnover, in deficit since “Several exercises”, according to its boss, Petit Bateau employs 400 people in Troyes.

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