Tom & Co.
Tom & Co. stores stock a huge pet range.
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France - Tom & Co.

"We are very happy"

The Belgian pet store chain Tom & Co. is expanding rapidly in France. PET worldwide spoke about this to managing director Lionel Desclée.
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Tom & Co. has experienced strong growth in France in the last year. How many stores does your company currently operate in France and how many franchise partners do you have? What are your plans for 2017?

Currently we operate 16 stores in France. 3 of them are opera­ted by Tom & Co. and 13 are franchised. Tom & Co. and especially its franchisees are very happy with the progress, commercial performance and clients' reactions. We will expand further into 2017, bearing in mind that we carefully select franchisees to ensure healthy and qualitative development.

How does the French market differ from your domestic market?

The French market is quite different from our domestic market, mainly because it is more mature from a customer perspective. Customers visit specialised pet stores mainly for premium products (as opposed to mainstream products), services and advice. Although customers are clearly well informed in advance, they still demand extensive assistance during shopping, which we can provide thanks to our welcoming and passionate staff members. 
The share and sales of live animals (birds, rodents, reptiles, fish, but no dogs and cats in our stores) are higher in France and therefore call for extensive advice and services.
The French market is unique in the sense that it requires specialised and educated staff to operate a pet store that sells animals. We therefore have access to highly qualified staff who have graduated from a proficient school system in France, and this allows us to service our clients accordingly. 
It took us several years to understand customer needs in depth and adjust our offering for the French market. 

How has Tom & Co. positioned itself in contrast to the competition?

Our store concept is rather unique in terms of layout, look & feel and assortment. Given that we originated from another market, we offer something fresh and never seen before in terms of shopping experience, products and client approach in France. Our extended range of private brands is also a plus. We offer the best of both countries, which is clearly appreciated by our customers and staff members.

What merchandise groups fare particularly well in your stores in France and which do less well?

As stated before, premium products and offering beautiful…
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