How does a local French smoked-salmon store, which only supplies restaurants, survive the current pandemic?

Katrina Poulsen

The salmon supplier Saumoneraie Saint-Martin is suffering during the pandemic, as sales usually only goes to restaurants. But instead of closing down the store and production totally, the store stays open three hours a day to supply local customers.

“We have to just wait. I am not stressed, but we hope in the near future, restaurants will begin to open,” says owner Cordonnier Hervé to SalmonBusiness.

Photo: Saumoneraie Saint Martin store.

Located in the South-Eastern part of France close to Marseille, Cordonnier Hervé runs the store and salmon production with his wife Claire Hervé and in high season, Christmas, they have eight other workers with them. The store is the only intake for the family. Since mid-March the company has lost 80% of their sales.

Saumoneraie Saint-Martin usually supplies the French restaurant market and sells around 800-1000 kg. smoked salmon a week.

Right now, Family Hervé’s store is selling 15-20 kg. salmon a week, by having the store open for three hours every weekday from 9-12 am, but at the moment they only have 15-20 customers. The intake is by far not enough in the long run.

“At the moment we are waiting. We try to sell to local customers, but we are a little shop and production and depend on our sales to restaurants in South-Eastern France. Our only way of working now is on our delicacy store with a small number of customers,” says Cordonnier Herves.

He explains what they will have to do to make it through the summer, if the tourism season does not come about:

“We will certainly have to call the banks and take up a loan, so we don’t lose to much. We have in this situation, the advantage of being a small company which allows us much more flexibility i regards to organisation, work and cash management.”

Normally in April the couple have an additional person for sales in the store and in production to produce and sell enough to the growing demand, as May is the beginning of the tourism season. The couple still hope and expect tourists will still make it to summer France to enjoy the warm weather and good food.

Family Hervé in production. Photo: Saumoneraie Saint-Martin

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