The new eco – La Tuilerie Laurent, the last artisan tile factory in France, sees its orders explode

It is a very small company, as it has only one employee, yet its history is very long as its current boss is the fifth generation to be successful. Founded in 1862 in Nan-sous-Thil, Lorenzo Tuilerie
it is still active and is also the only handcrafted tile in France. In 160 years the company has maintained and even shown good health with growing orders and a turnover of 120,000 euros, also in progress. The company is now also stamped “100% Côte-d’Or”. Interview with Colin Laurent, an optimistic young boss.

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Colin LAURENT in front of samples of tiles, bricks and tomettes made in the Tuilerie Laurent
© Radio France

Caroline Paul

You are one of the new 100% Côte d’Or approved brands. Do you expect specific results or is it just a source of pride for you?

Yes, it’s a pride. It was something close to my heart. We are part of the local heritage as it is quite an old company, it is the fifth generation that happens. We produce local products from the Côte d’Or and it was important to make this known to customers as well.

You are a French exception as Tuilerie Laurent is the last working artisan tile factory in France. What do you attribute this longevity to?

It is thanks to our ability to adapt. As we are a small manufacturing unit, we can make many things on request. Specific things that big companies don’t want to do. We can really do “custom made”.

Did the damage caused by the violent storms a few months ago, particularly in Liernais, fill up your order portfolio?

Not even that, but there have been requests, yes, for some projects. For the moment there is still nothing concrete because it will take some time with the insurance. But yeah, I’ve had a few calls following this bad weather.

We see it right away, many companies suffer from longer delivery times. Is it like that for you too?

Yes too, of course. We’ve had many requests and since for the moment I’m only in the company, when the orders are chained together, there is inevitably a bit of waiting behind them. We currently have a 6-7 month lead time for a fairly large 200 square foot project. There was already work in previous years for my dad but having so many requests is still pretty great this year. Apparently, it starts on the same basis for next year. We won’t complain. It’s better to have too many orders than not enough. We’ll see in the future if it lasts or not.

Do your customers like the 100% Côte d’Or brand or do you sell much further?

There are obviously many Côte-d’Ors, our biggest market however is in the Burgundy region. Subsequently, I also have a small request in the Paris and Lyon regions. I’ve also done some projects for the south of France, but there’s more brickwork there. People search the internet a lot and when they’re looking for something a little specific, they end up coming across us. They ask us if it is feasible and if we can do it. Of course we do. It can be anywhere in France but hey most of the market is still very local.

Reassure us, we won’t find glazed tiles on the roofs of southern France?

I don’t think so, not southern tiles, but other products, yes, a little. But for glazed tiles, we stay a lot here.

How is the company adapting to exploding energy costs?

Like all businesses, the Laurent tile factory faces soaring gas and electricity prices. Gas, for the kiln that needs to reach over 1,000 degrees to fire the bricks, tiles, and floor tiles. Electricity, for large machines that allow all the parts to be shaped. To avoid paying hefty bills, Colin Laurent had to organize his production by leveling it out over the course of the year.

“For electricity this year I renegotiated a contract with an attractive price for seven months, instead in winter its price is multiplied by seven compared to the price in summer. Consequently, during these five months, you have to slow down the activity because otherwise I find myself with exorbitant electricity bills. During the summer I try to produce upstream to have dry products, storage for the winter and simply rotate the cooking and simply make the ovens work. In this case they are gas-fired, so this too ‘year my contract is about to expire, so we’ll have to renegotiate there too for next year, but it will necessarily also increase, around 20% compared to this year. I’ll transfer it a bit to the products, but not to a level that allows me to recover all the increase”. calculates the young head of the Tuilerie Laurent.

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