Tuesday July 23, 2019, 11am, Courbevoie: Scorching weather. The thermometer displays 42 degrees: unheard of in Paris! The order is given. On TV, in the metro or in the storefront of pharmacies, it's impossible to miss it: hot weather, be sure to hydrate yourself well.
Well, well, that's good, Hervé Gacel welcomes us to his home, in his charming house, in Courbevoie, just a stone's throw from La Défense.

By Charlotte Florentin

Interview with Hervé Gacel, Director of the company Parcours gourmands

Charlotte Florentin for SF and Hervé Gacel Parcours Gourmands Director- © TPlassais / Swing Féminin

On the menu ? Wines galore and a nice interview without a hangover. Or language, we don't really know anymore. "There are no hours for the brave and even less with this heat" he laughs when we point out to him that it is only 11am.

Because, if there is one thing that Hervé likes to offer, it is wine. So much so that he made it his job.

At over 60, this hard worker retains his passion for success and reveals the secrets of his success to us. Hervé retraces with us his remarkable course and tells us a little more about his little protégé: his company Parcours Gourmands, to date present in more than 500 golf competitions. Yes, just that.


First, can you briefly introduce yourself?

I am Hervé Gacel, I am over 60 years old and I have a career in commerce. Today, I am the proud director of the company Parcours gourmands.

How would you describe yourself in just 3 words?

(Spontaneously) dynamic, serious and competitive.

What is the expression that best characterizes you, your outlook on life?

Carpe Diem ! (laughs) I am an Epicurean at heart: I like to enjoy life. It goes through my involvement in many causes, mainly charitable. For example, we are fully behind LIONS CLUB. Many organizations are looking for funding in the world of golf. So we help them.

Interview with Hervé Gacel, Director of the company Parcours gourmands

Photo: Marie Poidevin

Around the activity ...

Now that we know a little more about you, let's get to the heart of the matter: today you are the manager of Parcours gourmands. Before that, what was your background?

Initially, I was a salesperson then general manager in multinationals at Procter & Gamble for 7 years.

Particularly at Nivea, in training and sales and marketing management. I worked there for over 10 years. I also worked at CCA, I was general manager of the cakes branch. It's a little more than 6000 people: I managed 5 factories, which represented, in all, more than 1200 people.

Then, when I turned 50, I lost my job. I did not let myself be put down and started to create companies. One of them does business development and coaching from very large companies. Among the latter: Pepsi Cola and Fleury Michon.

Finally, I created a lot of small boxes in the wine world. Because in France, we are very big fans and consumers: I would even go so far as to say that it is the backbone of the French economy! And for good reasons: there are 600000 French people who live directly from wine and it suffices to add hoteliers, restaurateurs, doctors and the police to this number, it is much more than Airbus!

The main box is gourmet courses. To summarize in a few words, it is a commercial agency that buys like a wholesaler: this allows us to give the interested parties a taste and discover them who, subsequently, can buy them at a fair price. In France, the wine market, there are hundreds of thousands of offers, there is something to get lost.

Today, are you a happy leader? Is everything going as planned?

Yeah, I'm pretty happy. Because business is going well. And they work because we are efficient, there is no chance. We have controlled costs, no store charges and few staff costs: there are not many of us at Parcours gourmand. I'm happy, but we work a lot. We do rather twice 35H! (laughs) Lucky for me, I'm used to it, I've always had high rhythms in life. At 30, I slept only 3 hours a night. We make more than 100000 KM per year, we work every day of the week and it pays off: today we are present in more than 500 golf competitions. It's a lot.

Suddenly, we imagine that all this makes you want to continue on this path.

Of course, the concept is extremely powerful: you allow people to taste wine and buy it at a very competitive price. The principle is to sell at the price at which a restaurateur buys. We have at the same time very powerful brands which, within the framework of annual budgets, give us big means. Among the latter: Taittinger and Chapoutier. And then less prestigious wines, from small winegrowers, which are often favorites. For the latter, on the contrary, it is we who help them: thanks to us, they save trade fair fees and then, above all, we buy them a stock that they would not be able to sell themselves.

For us, that's two more arms and one more car. In short, I want to pass on the concept by creating subsidiaries because there is a lot of potential.

Golf & Gastronomy: two compatible universes?

Yes, it is extremely compatible. I would even go so far as to say that it is inseparable!

Since, when you start on a golf course, you have it for the whole day: it's 4 to 5 hours of game, a breakfast and a lunch. So we have plenty of time to taste and buy all kinds of wines! This is why I had no trouble setting up with Parcours Gourmands, on the contrary, they are extremely demanding!

Afterwards, it's not that simple as it sounds, it would be too good to be true. Because, in a golf course, many people decide: the objectives of a president are not those of a director, which are not those of a restaurateur, and so on. So it requires a minimum of experience and know-how to achieve the unanimity of everyone.

As far as we are concerned, the restaurateur must not have the impression that the ¼ of a glass offered is less turnover for him!

Interview with Hervé Gacel, Director of the company Parcours gourmands

Photo: Marie Poidevin

How did you get this vocation? What was the trigger ?

With one of my former regional directors, we were the creators of the concept the Vigna : we opened two hyper-wine markets for the Auchan group.

Unfortunately, in France, opening hyper markets for wine has not been successful, for two reasons. Profitability was not good: putting sommeliers on all shelves is a bad calculation. But above all, the number one constraint is that in France, to open an area of ​​more than 400 square meters, it requires three years of discussion. So, unfortunately, we were not able to complete the project. However, we did other things for Auchan: we opened stores and I was at the start of the opening of some in Russia, in Moscow more precisely.

It was on this occasion that PARCOURS-GOURMANDS was introduced, which was the council of the Russian consul in Lyon. We made referencing visits to the two largest Russian alcohol groups in France and, in return, Auchan was opening stores in Russia. This is how PARCOURS-GOURMANDS was born.

Your official partner is none other than the PGA. Your company is also present at the biggest golf events. How do you think your company stands out from the competition?

Indeed, we had episodic relations with the FFG (French golf federation) with the referencing of JACQUART champagnes. But, since this year only, it is all new, we are partner with the PGA (association of golf professionals).

To stand out, it's simple, we are very selective on the quality of the wines we offer.

I take an example: chapoutier. The brand currently offers more than 300 wines: there's something to get lost in! In agreement with them, we choose the 5 wines that they consider the most representative of the house then we add two or three favorites. We choose them either because we like them, or because we have exceptional purchasing conditions. For example, we sell Côtes-Roti Mordorée from Chapoutier at half the price of what it's worth: it's a performance. I have a sommelier with me: Yannick Richard. He is efficient and has good experience.

Also, we are very efficient on prices. And many will surely wonder how we manage to charge such low prices while earning a living. It's simple: we earn money thanks to the negotiations we manage to do with brands. For reasons: we have much less costs to pay. Our extremely attractive prices therefore allow us to stand out from the competition.

Another factor that comes into play: we offer flagship brands. Among the latter: Minuty.

There are scores in thousands of bottles of Minuty in golf courses in the Paris region while they are struggling to sell a case of wine between 20 and 50 euros! (laughs) Golfers mostly drink beer and Minuty, it's well known. So it's really an advantage for us to be able to offer such promising brands.

We also do everything in our power to make it as easy and straightforward for people to buy wine as possible. Since now, wine promotions are everywhere: in the press, on the Internet, etc. So it's not just about discovering wines that counts. We, unlike other providers, bring the wine directly to the venue. And that's what makes our strength!

Finally, the last factor that comes into play: today, we have the trust of thousands of customers. The box is more than 10 years old so it had the time to make itself known and that allowed us to acquire a real reputation.

The best memory of your entire career?

There are many good memories in the world of golf: 'we have been a partner in exceptional operations such as the drives from Saint-Tropez for example or the competitions of Wolters Kluwer. Today, we have such an important relational network that we can go everywhere, even at the Elysée! Even more crazy: we have half of the CEOs of the CAC 40 who have already bought us wine.

A particular anecdote to tell our readers?

I was the wine partner for the opening of the Golf de Samanah, in Marrakech. 5 whole days with the world golf elite. I met the president of the Assan 2 trophy and I filled his two Mercedes with wines, just that! (laughs)

A worse memory, an experience that turned into a fiasco?

(thinks) There are several that collide! (laughs)

In Madeira, we were participatory by bringing great wines to an exceptional operation, which consisted in promoting the city of Saint-Tropez. There were catamarans, sumptuous evenings and therefore a lot of events with local elected officials.

The wines brought in so delighted the competitors that they were missing at the final prize-giving.

Future projects?

We have plans to develop the world corporate golf challenge. The next events to come are the French PGA Championship in August. We have hundreds of requests so we have to find support! (laughs) Creating franchises is also part of our future projects. What would already be great is to succeed in being hegemonic in the Paris region.

Do you have an ultimate goal, a supreme achievement that you would like to achieve as part of your leadership career? A fantasy?

Today, my professional life is more behind than in front. (laughs) I've already accomplished a lot. Maybe slow down a bit: enjoy my family and life a bit more.

Could we encourage a young person of today to launch his company in the world of gastronomy? If so, any advice?

Of course ! The food and wine, what is very interesting is that it is renewable at will. It concerns everyone: there are 69 million French people and everyone eats, it is a vital need. And when it comes to alcohol, 80% consumes it. We buy a bottle more often than a car! (laughs) So, pragmatically, yes, the calculations are correct: there is a future. My advice ? You have to be hard-working, have a little talent and then know how to seize the opportunities that are offered to us: sometimes, it is a little bit of luck! (laughs) It reminds me of a quote from Voltaire who said that success in life depends on three factors: talent, work and luck. This is one of my leitmotivs and my subject at the Bac.

Is there something we haven't talked about that you would like to highlight, not necessarily in relation to your career, but more personal?

(spontaneously) That we are listening to offer you the best wines in the world! (laughs)

A final word to our readers?

Work is success in life. And the success, it is important to share it.

To contact Hervé Gacel clicked here