Louis Le Duff



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Louis Le Duff - Founder of Groupe Le Duff

From pitchfork to table fork
In December 1995, the magazine Entreprendre awarded its “Entrepreneur of the year” prize to Louis Le Duff, founder of the Brioche Dorée name and Groupe Le Duff. Today he is at the head of a food company with 1120 establishments (La Brioche Dorée, Pizza Del Arte, La Madeleine, Le Fournil de Pierre) and five Bridor production units, employs over 14 100 people throughout the world and has a turnover this year approaching 1,2 billion euros.

Yet nothing predestined this scion of Nord-Finistère to be one of the great success stories in the French economy.
Louis Le Duff is a typical child of Léon, an area north of Brest which also produced the Leclerc family which has made its mark in the French retailing business.

His father Vincent Le Duff and mother Soizic Kersauson, market gardeners and vegetable merchants, rapidly followed the lead of Alexis Gourvennec who championed the modernisation of Breton agriculture in the 1960s. They would have liked their son to be a farmer but, as he cheerfully admits, he didn’t like working on the land. What he really enjoyed in the family business was dealing. As he says, “I was born into a family where the work and family business ethic was part of your education, an environment where you are born with an ambition to go it alone."
  I followed in the footsteps of my parents whom I loved and admired. That was how I fell in love with trade at a very early age.»

At the age of fifteen, at his parents’ request, Louis went to work in their little market gardening business. He very soon cut his teeth as a merchant. His father sent him on his own to the fruit and veg market in Plouescat where he rubbed shoulders with the old hands. Selling now at today’s market price or waiting till tomorrow to get a better price, with the risk of being left with a stock of perishable unsaleable vegetables… the stuff of nightmares for a young fifteen-year-old apprentice market gardener.

When one of his friends exclaimed about this, Vincent Le Duff retorted, “I know very well my boy’s going to be had, but I also know it’s the best investment I can make. It’s at his age that the best dealers are made.”

After 2 years, Louis went back to his studies at the Croix Rouge Catholic school in Brest, followed by the ESSCA (higher business college) in Angers. Trade stuck to his heels. While he was studying in Angers, he was also dealing in caravans. Business went so well for him that he hired two students to help him out.