For years we have been driving in to Loches via Perrusson and so for years we have been driving past the Savebag factory. We didn't think much about the place. It's a not very prepossessing white building. We assumed they made plastic bags.
It turns out they make luggage! I discovered this when a Facebook friend made a comment about their biennial sale. The company was created in 1963 and is still family owned. They make leather goods, luggage, sports bags, satchels, school and laptop bags. There are 200 employees working at the factory.
In 2014 they were accredited as an entreprise du patrimoine vivant ('a living heritage business'), a label which recognises their knowledge and the excellence of their product. Due to their commitment to passing on the skills and to constant innovation, they are seen as a business that is continuing the tradition of French luxury goods. The products are all designed on the Perrusson premises, but not all manufactured there. The factory workshops tend to focus on the higher end goods. They manufacture bags under their own brand, and for big names like Louis Vuitton.
As well as the big sale the factory has a shop which is open Monday to Friday. Prices are 20 - 50% lower than retail. The staff are very happy to provide advice and after sales service.
We needed a new suitcase and after some research on the internet Simon decided that visiting the shop at Savebag would be worthwhile. I had to go to Loches for a mammogramme on Thursday. My appointment was at 9am and by 9.30am I was out again, with a clean bill of breast health. I went to Intersport to look at sports shoes on special. I didn't like any of them, so didn't purchase. So I had time to pop in to Savebag on the way home.
I parked in the visitor carpark and as requested on the sign on the door, buzzed and entered. I greeted the receptionist and asked about the factory shop. She rang someone called Sylvie upstairs, telling her 'there's someone for the shop'. I was told to go upstairs and wait at the top for Sylvie, who would take me to the shop.
Sylvie turned out to be a lovely and friendly blond woman who was happy to leave me to look around in the shop. I checked out all the suitcases in the size we wanted and chose a yellow rigid case. The price, for a 75 litre capacity, was €31 (retail price €48). When I'd chosen my suitcase Sylvie was nowhere to be seen so I ventured out into the corridor. I encountered a tall, dark and handsome youngish man heading for his office, but entirely prepared to be sidetracked and sell me a suitcase. At that moment Sylvie emerged from the big room at the other end of the corridor so he was saved the trouble, but my impression is that it is an extremely pleasant and friendly place where they care about their customers.
In 1951 Marcel Vignaud was a leatherworker in Tours, designing, making and selling leather goods and luggage. His success was such that he built a factory and registered the business name Savebag in 1962. In 1976 all his hard work really paid off, with a contract to work with the prestigious fashion house YSL. Once the east Asian factories began undercutting his business, Savebag had to regroup and reorganise. They concentrated their production at Perrusson and worked on gaining new markets. Nowadays they export and communicate directly with the public to better position themselves in the domestic market. They now have multiple sites and a total of 485 employees. The management concentrates on maintaining the quality of their manufacture, diversifying their market and ensuring the technical expertise of their staff. They've developed their own brand, built up their proportion of manufacture and distribution under licence and increased their role as sub-contractors.