Rouen: Yvonne’s little darlings under the Dubai sun

From Rouen (Seine-Maritime) to… Dubai (United Arab Emirates)! Les pe choux d’Yvonne, the bakery-pastry shop launched in 2010 by the Coudrays near the Rouen train station, has come a long way. Because last June, a Yvonne boutique opened on the 1st floor of the Dubai Hills Mall, offering the specialties that have made it famous throughout the city where six points of sale already exist.

But this time, the entrepreneurial project is coupled with another more family one since Émilie and Jean-Marc Coudray have settled for almost a year in the United Arab Emirates where their youngest son has just started secondary school …right in the middle of the desert.

“It all started with a family trip in 2016, including my little brother. We really appreciated the place and we said to ourselves that we had to come back with a project,” says Émilie Coudray, who named her business in homage to her paternal grandmother, a restaurateur from Rouen who would have been 104 years old on the 20th. last September.

“Since my little brother is no longer with us, and in a way, we are realizing the dream we had together.” To do this, she was able to rely on the skills of her son Pacôme who will finish his business school course in December and will join them in Dubai where his big sister is already there to take care of marketing and social networks. Always family…

Little cabbages with multiple flavors by Emilie and Jean-Marc Coudray.  DR
Little cabbages with multiple flavors by Emilie and Jean-Marc Coudray. DR

On site, it was another universe that had to be tamed for the couple of entrepreneurs who for the occasion had to revise their English and review their preconceptions about local culture. “We thought that French know-how, and more broadly the image of France, would be enough to build our reputation. But we realized that if the Emiratis loved France, we also had to adapt to their tastes, to seduce them with codes and an atmosphere that they appreciate.”

“We are far from the image that influencers convey”

The store has therefore adopted more “flashy” tones than in Rouen, with brighter colors in a sophisticated decor that their customers do not hesitate to photograph to relay it on social networks. All while highlighting sweet treats and pastries that are popular with their customers. “And coffee, in all its forms. Today it represents 40% of our turnover,” underlines Jean-Marc Coudray who took several Rouen professionals on the adventure, in order to maintain the quality of products made in Normandy.

“We import Isigny butter (Calvados) or chocolate from France. Here, the taste of our products is the same as in Rouen. But we have developed new sweet recipes to meet demand,” continues the man who ures that he does not regret the Normandy climate and appreciates “an ideal living environment for living as a family. We are far fromimage that influencers send “. Without denying, however, that the country’s social and tax advantages are another advantage for doing business there.

After three months, the concept began to prove itself. So much so that the Emirates airline and the Hyatt hotel group have approached the Coudray couple to enter into partnerships. Investors have also come forward to export Yvonne to other Gulf countries. A little early for Émilie Coudray: “For the moment, we want to focus on Dubai and we will take stock in a few months.”

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