Boa Idea continues its growth and launches V 2 “plug in retailer”

Designer and manufacturer of intelligent modular conveyors for the logistics sector, the Saint-Etienne-based SME continues to gain momentum. The Boa concept now has 75 employees and should achieve a turnover of around 20 million euros in 2022, an increase of 35%. On Monday, the company officially opened the expansion of its premises on the occasion of its 10th anniversary, marked by the launch of a new product: the V 2 “plug in store”, a robotic solution for inventory management.

140 logistics locations are now equipped with Boa conceptual solutions. ©Boa concept

As far as they are concerned, it doesn’t change anything. For now in any case, the international context does not block or even slow down the progress of the Boa concept, which was successfully launched in June 2021 on the Euronext Growth market in Paris. Covid has hurt the Saint-Etienne SME, which in 2020 fell to 5.6 million euros in turnover (11 million euros is targeted) compared to 9 achieved in 2019. But driven, among other things, by the development of the sector in e-commerce , recovered very well last year, with growth in an unexpected ratio of… 162% and reached 14.8 million euros. The first half of 2022 is in continuity with the already recorded 9 million euros (+50% compared to half of 2021) and a total of about twenty million predicted for the whole year.

“Everything is definitely going faster than expected”, comments by Jean-Lucien Rascle. And again, he adds, “potential growth is limited, partly due to a lack of available labor and supply concerns”. Ten years after Chantal Ledoux and her husband Jean-Lucien Rascle, engineers and entrepreneurs in series, pure products of the Saint-Etienne School of Mines, launched the Boa Concept. The company invented, before manufacturing them itself, intelligent modular conveyors intended for the world of logistics. These small modular conveyors, one to three meters long, connectable and each equipped with a motor and an electronic card, offered unprecedented flexibility to “intralogistics” (order production, packaging, receiving, production…).

Jean-Lucien Rascle and Chantal Ledoux. ©If Media/Xavier Alix

Plug and store, version 2 is on the market

The idea also ensures the investment of the sector, allowing, as a result, the adaptation of the logistics routing system to the physiognomy of any location, as well as its rapid expansion or, on the contrary, its narrowing if necessary, depending on the volume of activity. 140 locations are now equipped with solutions, whether they belong to logistics players (Logsytech, Vingeanne, etc.), direct e-commerce players (Oscaro, Ekosport, Motoblouz, Aroma zona, Bricoprivé, Zoomalia, etc.), retailers (Gemo, Obut, Kingtoy…) or industry (Raja, Orexad, Mersen, Hamelin…). The R&D team – four people, but in constant contact with different specific design offices representing 40% of the workforce – works to improve the product and diversify it. And on this topic, there is something new.

Where, with our conveyor, the average basket is 400,000 euros, it is a million euros for the Plug and store.

Jean-Lucien Rascle, co-director of Boa Concept

Boa Concept already offered Plug and store, a robotic inventory management system adopted by Obut, for example. The development of its version 2, supported by the Aura region through the BPI (Public Investment Bank) up to 50% in subsidies and returnable advances for an investment of 1 million euros, aims to truly diversify the traffic that is still moving at 95% of its initial product. This “V II” is now on the market. “Where, with the conveyor, the average basket is 400,000 euros, that’s a million euros for the Plug and store”summarizes Jean-Lucien Rascle who promises that other solutions, “complementary optimization products for example”will be published soon.

In the Bo assembly workshops: The Saint-Etienne SME uses components that come 80% from the region. ©If Media/Xavier Alix

From external growth to the project department

In the economic context, which is likely to be increasingly favorable at this level, external growth projects are being considered. In France, “on technical possibilities, related to new products”, says Chantal Ledoux. And abroad, “about small studio and commercial structures in order to better fit into the way of working in the target countries”. 20% of Bo’s turnover is currently generated outside of France: in Europe and Morocco. In short, enough to give Boa managers serious prospects for development, who do not worry about the huge remaining potential of customers to be equipped with conveyors. As they plan a new capital increase, they hope to reach €35 million in turnover in 2027 and employ around fifty people by then, after hiring around ten in 2021 and then 22 in 2022 (a few positions are still open): engineers , IT experts, project managers, commercial, administrative, fitters: all positions are in question.

We have improved the working environment. That is very important in today’s competition to recruit.

Chantal Ledoux, co-director of Boa Concept

They currently have 75 employees in order to have a little more practical comfort as well as aesthetics. Boa has leased part of the former premises of the late Loire Offset Titoulet printing house on the border between La Talaudière and Saint-Etienne, it has just been extended into an annex building to now operate on 4,700 m2. €800,000 was invested in setting up new workshops, improving processes throughout the location and, above all, more comfortable and attractive offices. “And this work environment counts a lot compared to the current competition for employment”, emphasizes Chantal Ledoux. The extension is being celebrated on Monday at the same time as the company’s first decade, allowing Boa to see it coming up to… and including 2023. After that, it will likely need to open a secondary workshop. Probably nearby: ZA Molina La Chazotte is right next to…

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