When the Norman car dealership Mary diversifies into… cycling: “It’s complementary! »

When the Norman car dealership Mary diversifies into… cycling: “It’s complementary!  »

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In new or used goods, from the Dacia to the Alpine, specialist in utility vehicles but also in private vehicles, new but also second-hand spare parts… In Normandy, the Mary group is rightly considered an automotive heavyweight, with its 70 locations between Le Mont-Saint-Michel (Manche) and Le Touquet (Pas-de-Calais); via Saint-Quentin (Aisne) and its approximately 2,000 employees.

And yet, in Le Havre, the very last store of the group managed since its creation in 1992 in Lisieux (Calvados) by François Mary, displays the Mary cycles banner. With its repair workshop, it is the third dedicated to cycling after that of Deauville and Saint-Quentin. An anomaly, even a heresy, between two often antagonistic worlds ? “On the contrary,” smiles Victor Mary, the son of the big boss, who wishes to reconcile the two worlds. Without forgetting to do business.

“Today,” says Victor Mary, “we have to think in terms of mobility. Where am I going and with what? Sometimes the bike is quicker and easier, sometimes the car when it is essential. And sometimes, it’s even the train that will be more practical. » He also occasionally participates in meetings dedicated to the development of so-called soft mobility in urban areas, such as recently in Caen (Calvados). “It’s always fun to sit there and hear comments about the best way to kill the car in the city center. When I introduce myself, he always has a little moment of hesitation but, in the end, we realize that complementarity is possible. »

Marketing director at Mary, the young man is also the “Cycle” figure within the group, helped by a slightly retro look, all glasses and mustache. “For the record,” he reveals, “when she met me, my wife thought for a month that I worked in a bike store. It must be said that I talk about it all day. » His thing is long-distance walks. The latest, a couple crossing Japan for two months this summer.

This passion was to send this business school graduate on the roads of the world for an indefinite period a few years ago. “But Covid prevented me from leaving and I found myself going around in circles at my parents’ house during confinement. My father asked me to work with him a little while I waited. And asked me to think about what we could do in the bike…”

A clever way, no doubt, to convince the son to take over. But which grows thicker over the years. Especially since this sector, particularly with regard to the VAE (electrically assisted bicycle) is still in an equipment phase and not yet renewed. “It’s a bit like with the arrival of the smartphone, there is a before and an after. For cycling, the Covid period has accelerated everything. Everyone started buying two-wheelers, electric or not. And not just for the weekend, but also for everyday travel,” noted Victor Mary, aware that this booming market still remains marginal within his company.

“It’s certain that if we think about it on a group scale, the bike doesn’t weigh much. Mary, it’s more than a billion euros in turnover. Cycling is a million, or 0.1%…” Still. Whether for leisure, mobility, competition or adventure cycling, Mary plays the diversity card, in particular by offering exclusives with the French brand Specialized. And with reflexes coming from the automotive sector.

“We can, for example, offer fleets of bicycles to our customers for their employees, as we do with utility fleets,” illustrates Grégory Oliveira, cycle director at Mary. Animal parks or hotels are also seeking information to offer bicycles, for their customers but also for their staff who can occasionally use them. cargo bikes in their work. He assures that today business leaders are beginning to integrate the fact that provide their employees with two-wheelers to travel is experienced as an improvement in working conditions. A few pedal strokes to keep morale up? Victor Mary and his teams believe in it.

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