This is a brand I discovered some time ago when we were staying in Le Marais in Paris. My beloved wanted some jam to go on his breakfast croissants and the shop was just around the corner. There’s also a shop in Aix-en-Provence – a bit closer to home – where I got chatting to the sales assistant who told me the company was set up in 2011 by Lise Bienaimé, a thirty-something alumnus of the beauty industry.
How did it all start?
We tend to associate jam making with images of a kind grandmother carefully stirring the bubbling contents of a copper pan with a wooden spoon. Nothing could be further from this somewhat dated clichés, Lise Bienaimé, the founder of La Chambre aux Confitures, set up her first shop was in rue des Martyrs in Paris, not far from where she lived with her three young children. In truth she was following in family footsteps, specifically those of her great-grandfather, a grocer in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
Bienaimé, a former marketing executive with the L’Oréal group, wanted to take control of her life and spend more time with her family. So she she put to good use what she’d learned in her days in the beauty business: identifying priorities, finding the right management tools, setting up a distribution method entirely dedicated to the product; elegant packaging and the chance to try before you buy.
The comany aims to develop 25 new products each year. Not only are there jams and marmalades but also caramel and chocolate-based sauces and spreads, savory recipes to accompany cheeses or foie gras and delicately fragrant candles, poured into the same small round jars as the jams, which have gradually enriched the range. There’s even a cookbook.
The company’s manufacturing capability is located in the Hautes-Alpes close to vast areas of fruit, herb and flower production. The company’s small and dedicated team meticulously prepares each ingredient before cooking it and creating original blends, playing with flavours to create surprising marriages.
Each preserve uses only seasonal ingredients and sugar, no preservatives, flavour enhancers or chemical colorants. Just simple seasonal fruits from sustainable, largely organic agriculture, carefully chosen for their beautiful quality, and picked at full maturity. Not too much sugar, just enough to preserve the soul of the fruit.
La Chambre aux Confitures produces and sells high-end jams in its stores located in Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Lille and Lyon, as well as through its e-commerce site launched in 2012.
Weaving Group acquired a stake in La Chambre aux Confitures in spring 2019 by purchasing the shares previously held by Audacia, Re-Sources and Nord Capital. With 68% of the shares, Weaving took control of the SME. The remaining shares were still held by founder, her family, plus Olivier Baussan, founder of L’Occitane (5%), and Isabelle Chevrier (2%), all initial shareholders in the venture.
For the Idjerouidene family, owners of Weaving, this investment represented the continued diversification of the group’s activities in the high-end food market. For La Chambre aux Confitures, it was the means to continue its expansion by developing other distribution channels.
Sadly, the gilets jaunes protests in Paris which severely impacted tourist traffic, meant sales fell significantly in 2019, well below forecasts. Nonetheless, the company expanded its range thanks to a partnership with Hédène honeys and signed a distribution agreement for Korea. This however wasn’t enough to prevent the majority shareholders from ousting Bienaimé. She was replaced by Béatrice Geffray-Déranlot recruited to implement the strategy defined by this family group: development of BtoB, online sales, distribution in CHR and export.
Images courtesy of La Chambre aux Confitures