Q&A: Katell Burot, CEO of Carrément Tarte, put the health of her employees and vendors first when navigating difficult circumstances.
Here’s how she handled the pandemic.
Katell Burot is the Co-Founder and CEO of Carrément Tarte, an award winning and fast-growing food processing company specializing in the manufacturing of ready-to-garnish and ready-to-serve gourmet food products. A professional Chartered Accountant in both France and Canada before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey, Katell is now committed to the development of the agri-food sector, working to build her business and change the image and perception of the industry
How have you managed your business finances through the pandemic?
The onset of the pandemic created many uncertainties: Losses in certain markets (the restaurant industry), the slow down in our growth, the shelving of our expansion project, and the risk to a number of accounts receivable. The approach was immediately reactive to cash flow. What was the risk for the next three months? Were there any facilities we could take advantage of? Entrepreneurial sharing was key during this period, to share the good and the bad. We used the financing opportunities available to us: an emergency loan and moratorium. Luckily for us, the effects of the first few weeks quickly diminished in favour of business growth in the online grocery and retail markets.
Has your approach to sales and marketing changed?
We refocused all our sales efforts in the grocery market, and in that market grew our partnerships with online grocery players. The strategy was simple: business development and traditional canvassing through store visits are no longer possible, so let’s focus on growing our existing partnerships. Unfortunately, this change in focus forced us to put some of our workforce on part-time hours.
We also participated in numerous online sales platform initiatives. Admittedly, some with varying degrees of success — every day a new platform emerged! Today, few of these initiatives remain active, but this did stimulate thinking about online sales in the company.
How has technology played a role in your business during this time?
E-commerce, e-commerce, e-commerce — the key word for the new direction that the pandemic is leading food processing companies to take. Carrément Tarte is following this trend. After having engaged in strategic planning, we are currently working on implementing a transactional site and a digital strategy, which will be incorporated in our manufacturing business model.
How have you managed your mindset (and that of your team)?
“Care” is definitely the word that best describes our mindset during these tumultuous months! Care for our employees, who were waiting for strong action to address a degree of anxiety. As a food processor, Carrément Tarte never stopped operating. Care for our customers, some of whom are in the restaurant business, who experienced extremely difficult months. Care for our suppliers, who were experiencing supply disruptions and workforce reductions. And, lastly, care for us as entrepreneurs! We’re all-terrain vehicles — crisis management gives us adrenaline, but we’re not all equal in this environment.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to all entrepreneurs in your industry today?
My mantra since the beginning of our adventure has been “make it happen!” It’s up to us to make our dream a reality. Of course, it’s a bit of a balancing act, because we all know that a dose of realism and pragmatism is also necessary. One thing is for sure though: You shouldn’t listen to everyone, especially at the start. Good ideas and opportunities only exist because not everyone sees them!