"We are a humane, honest and ambitious company."
Today, meet Denis Gouzou, Sales Manager for south-west France.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
I've worked for Opinel since 2004. I'm the Sales Manager for south-west France and based in Bordeaux. I deal with several distribution channels, such as retailers, wholesalers, specialist shops and department stores. I also undertake additional support assignments including product and distribution network development: these are new challenges that I both enjoy and which allow me use my experience.
What does your job entail?
My job's objective is to develop the brand's sales and visibility. I work with distributors and retailers who sell our products to end-users.
For me, there are three main aspects. Firstly, there's the matter of quantity to ensure clients have sufficient merchandise so that they can sell it on to their customers. Then there's the qualitative aspect: ensuring the right product placement to reach the maximum amount of consumers (layouts, window displays etc...). Finally there's the question of product knowledge. This involves knowing how to present the selling points alongside product and brand knowledge to distributors so they can sell our products to the best of their ability.
What do you consider to be the most important selling point?
The brand as such, and what it represents. There's always a story to tell with Opinel: emotions, memories, first times... In addition to their cutting prowess, the fact that our products are Made in France and provide excellent value for money hit the mark, particularly at this moment in time.
Do you still work with the same clients that you had sixteen years ago?
Yes, I still work a lot of them! To do my job, you need to like people, to be able to establish trust and be reliable. I have an excellent relationship with my clients, some of whom have become friends.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the contact, the clients and our interactions. I also really enjoy participating in market and brand growth.
Can you sum up your job in a few words?
For me, you need to be passionate about the job. It's a job that requires a lot of energy and it can affect the work/life balance. It's a slightly solitary job, but compensated by wonderful professional and personal encounters.
You are currently 8 representatives in France. How do you deal with the solitude and at the same time keep your team spirit up?
As we all do the same job, we help each other out as much as possible. Talking about our successes, disappointments or concerns brings us closer together and we are always available to each other. We're good listeners and an understanding team.
Have you any anecdotes you'd like to share?
I remember that when I started out Opinel was associated with rustic living, hunters and hikers. The brand had a very rural image and when we started to woo distributors in the tableware world, we got a slightly frosty reception. There were certain preconceptions, but we finally entered the market without compromising our values and roots. It was a real success story and we were proud that we were able to modernise the brand's image as well as turn the knife into an everyday item that's simple, efficient, a bit rustic but also incredibly practical.
An piece of Opinel furniture bears your name. Are you proud of that?
Yes, it's the Denis Tower Merchandiser! It started with a merchandising request that I fought for tooth and nail, a display unit to promote our products in shops. My perseverance paid off, the project was launched and the unit was named after me. It was a fantastic gesture by the marketing and sales management teams and I really appreciated it.
What values would you say that the company holds?
We are a humane, honest and ambitious company. Employees' well-being is at the heart of the company's policies and I'm lucky and pleased to work for such a set-up.
How did your friends and family react when you told them you were going to work at Opinel?
On a personal level I had to adopt the brand's culture, a Savoie culture. My friends and family, like myself at the time, didn't know the brand well, but now they've got a very positive image: they've learned about its universe and history, and today they've all got an Opinel to hand! It's incredibly satisfying! It's also rewarding because my friends and family know that I work for such a tremendous French brand.
What is your favourite Opinel product? Which one do you like offering as a gift?
I like the traditional N°08. It's an iconic model with a unique design that hasn't been changed for 130 years. I also really like the table and kitchen knives, which are efficient and practical.
I like to give people the corkscrew knife, a knife that's witnessed a big success in the south-west.It's a knife associated with the joys of aperitifs and meals and a good bottle of wine; a fun and friendly aspect that I adore!