Avril health supermarkets may have a name in French, but until recently I didn’t know it was a Quebec company.
When I saw the banner arrive in Quebec a few years ago, it was such a big store that I had the impression of a success from elsewhere. And co-founder Sylvie Senay tells me that this impression is common. It’s a rather flat observation, as if we still had trouble believing in our entrepreneurial successes…
On the eve of inaugurating an eleventh of April on boulevard Laurier in Quebec City, at a cost of $10 million and covering an area of 36,000 square feet, the businesswoman is proud of the progress made since the founding of the company. in 1995.
“We didn’t know that organic was going to become trendy when we started, and maybe we contributed to the wave without really realizing it. We are proud of it! ” she says.
It all started as a hobby. Sylvie worked in the banking sector and her husband, Rolland Tanguay, was a construction contractor when their couple was born, a year before the start of the business adventure. Sylvie refused to be transferred to another workplace and took a sabbatical. Then, Rolland heard of a natural products store for sale in Granby. Seeing it as a great hobby, Sylvie bought it. She plunged into it with passion and from renovation to expansion, Rolland decided to join her two years later to grow the business. The Health Basket has thus become Avril, evocative of sunny days.
“We wanted to democratize organic and natural products. People always say that organic is expensive, and we wanted to stop this belief. And we are doing well. We are told that it is not expensive, even that we sometimes have vegetables cheaper than in traditional grocery stores, ”observes Sylvie Senay.
The purchasing power of Avril, which has had its distribution center since 2018, allows it to negotiate good prices and even to obtain supplies directly from certain suppliers. Rebates are given back to consumers. Moreover, they are the ones who brought Avril out of Granby.
“People came from Longueuil, Sherbrooke and even Quebec to fill up with us because we were known to have good prices. It is by dint of being asked for stores in these cities and others that we have developed in other regions, ”says the entrepreneur.
At 67, she still loves working and has a strong appetite for growth. She and her husband are pursuing the goal of opening two stores a year, after those in Saint-Bruno and Montreal last year. Food is a very competitive industry, but the duo doesn’t feel like they’re battling giants because they have their own niche. But then, imagine the covetousness that its stores must arouse!
“We are very watched by other banners, admits Sylvie. But we are preparing our succession internally, we have competent people around us. »
She clarifies that she is not about to stop because passion and health are there. And, as her husband says, work doesn’t make you die!
- Year of foundation: 1995
- Founders: Sylvie Senay and Rolland Tanguay
- Place of the head office : Granby
- Activity area : Feed
- Number of employees: 1000
PROFILE OF SYLVIE SENAY
- Job : Co-founder
- Age : 67 years old
- Education: Certificate in administration