Vincent Legros, who is 41 years old, opened a new shop in September in Versailles. The name of his shop is “Actéco”, for acting for ecology. The new shop’s concept is environmentally friendly and economical: Vincent is recycling ink cartridges for printers.
The customer carries the empty ink cartridges to the shop to be refilled. Vincent can recharge them in a couple of minutes, which allows the customer the option of waiting in the shop for a very short period or the customer can drop the cartridge off, and pick them up later. The refilling process costs half the price of a new cartridge. But Vincent prefers to keep the process secret. He admits that he can recharge 95 % of the brands of printers.
His shop is nearly profitable, he hopes it will be by the end of the year 2006. Since he opened, three months ago, he has currently 80 firms as customers, and more than 370 loyal clients. Most of them come because it is less expensive, offers for environmental concerns. “I have some customers who kept their empty cartridges, they did not want to throw them in the garbage” Vincent stated.
Before Vincent started his own business, he was a key account manager in British Petroleum (BP), the major oil company. His experience at BP is very useful for his new job. “I wanted to change my job and to become my own boss. I was looking for something new. And I feel concerned by environmental issues” he said.
When he heard about an environmentally friendly store, he decided to launch one himself. He thought about his project in great details and wrote down a business plan. After planning, he had to find a suitable office. Then he started on his ability to finance this project. It took him one year to realise his project. On the 31st of July, he left his job, and began to pay the rent on his own store on the 15th of August. He hired painters to beautify the outside of the building and an interior decorator for the inside. He opened his shop on the 19th of September. He funded it with his own, at a cost of 90,000 euros. “I sent out more than 40,000 leaflets, put some advertissements in free newspapers, and sent e-mails to customers, especially firms, applying what I did when I worked for BP”.
The concept comes from Australia, and it is well developped in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Germany and in Italy. But it is quite new in France. “France is one of the last countries to develop it. In the United Kingdom, there are 200 stores, whereas in France, there are only 80. The market is in full expansion”.
Vincent works six days a week, from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. He has a part-time employee. If the business continues to improve, his employee will become a full-time employee.
As a sign of his potential and success, he already has a new project: opening a shop in the town of Le Chesnay, closed to Versailles, next to the famous store “Fnac”. He is a happy shopkeeper who promotes environmental awareness while simultaneously providing a much needed service to the customer.