Two Brothers are Rocking the Print Market
One was a singer with a New Wave band and plays guitar, the
other sings and writes songs. However, Laurent and Thierry Charliot
from Montaigu in the west of France are not just brothers and
passionate musicians - they are also talented businessmen who are
achieving continual growth for their print shop "Imprimédia"
through their unusual ideas.
The ladybug that adorns the Imprimédia logo is more than
proving its worth as a lucky charm. The family-run business was
established in 1978, and Thierry and Laurent Charliot have been at
the helm since 1995. Since then, the print shop's headcount has
risen from three to more than 20. Even more astonishing than the
rapid growth is the way it has been achieved. Their incredible
success lies in the fact that: "We don't limit ourselves to
printing paper. Instead we supply our customers with printed
communications with the aim of raising their profile and boosting
their business success," underlines Thierry. It is with this aim in
mind that the Charliot brothers have gradually expanded their
"We don't just implement our customers'
communication policies - we provide consulting services from the
outset to decide which strategy will bring the optimum benefits.
Creativity is the key," explains Laurent. That's why
Imprimédia has set up its own small advertising agency
including web design services. The five employees cover all the
bases including editorial work, graphics, and layout. They also
design logos and manage complete marketing campaigns and
On the look-out for sponsors
The Charliot brothers attach great importance to sport and
culture. Events in both these areas provide an excellent
advertising platform for existing and potential customers. This was
the inspiration behind the company's second line of business -
sponsor acquisition. "The "Festival de Poupet" in western France
sees stars like Lenny Kravitz and Joe Cocker take to the stage.
Each year, we secure 30 percent of the financing for this event
through sponsors. Without these sponsors, it would not be possible
to hold this popular music festival, which draws in crowds of
around 40,000 each year," explains Thierry. Of course,
Imprimédia doesn't provide this service purely out of the
goodness of its heart. The company produces all the print products,
taking in jobs for everything from tickets and programs to posters.
Today, the duo also produces a handful of free magazines
that they publish themselves. These products are financed by
advertisements and the sale of advertising supplements. One of the
free magazines ("Nantes Sénior") is a culture and leisure
guide for elderly people in the city of Nantes, which is published
every two months with a total circulation of 35,000. "Magazines are
our core competency, because they make full use of our skills -
from design, layout and editorial work to printing, advertising
sales and distribution," says Laurent.
The most recent addition to the business was a publishing
house for art prints and posters, which was founded in 2003 and
sold for a profit in 2008. "We decided to try our hand at this line
of business, because we like art, but also because we were
impressed with the excellent profit margins. If you compare the
cost prices with the sales prices, it is a very lucrative
business," explains Thierry.
Your activities increase the popularity of Imprimédia. What
else do you do to win new customers and boost customer loyalty?
Laurent (left): Twice a year we invite customers to attend
workshops at our print shop. This is an opportunity for them to get
the low-down on the latest trends and to experience the fantastic
atmosphere at our company. This helps us foster emotional
ties with our customers. That's why we also publish a list of
our favorite songs on our website.
You are also committed to corporate social responsibility. Is
this linked to your business?
Laurent: We place great value on social and ecological
responsibility. We were the first "green print shop" in the
Vendée, for example. We print with plant-based inks and use
only recycled paper or paper from sustainably managed forests.
Thierry: Running the print shop is not just about turning a profit
- it is also important to take on corporate social responsibility.
We help organize the annual benefit concert "Rockeurs ont du
cœur" (Warm-hearted rockers) in Nantes for example. What makes
this event special is that anyone coming to see the show has to
bring a new toy worth at least Euro 10 - that's the cost of
admission. The toys are then donated to children in need. We have
made a lot of new contacts through music that sometimes bring in
new business. However, the price is still the deciding factor.
Why are you involved in the industry association ImpriFrance?
Laurent: ImpriFrance is an excellent information platform
for trends and technologies. It also shows customers that our
products are of the highest quality.
What is your next project?
Laurent: I am writing a second book about rock which is
due to be published at the end of 2010. My first book about rock in
Nantes sold 3,500 copies.
Thierry [laughs]: I've started to write songs. So I hope
to write and sing my own album. It will probably be finished in...