Lot-et-Garonne: Agen biscuit factory changes hands

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The Biscuiterie d’Agen has changed hands. The Bitone family has just sold the family business on Avenue Michelet to Stéphane Chezal.

Biscuiterie d’Agen, which has continued the family tradition of unleavened bread since 1963 thanks to the know-how acquired in Algeria, has now given way to Biscuiterie Agenaise. The latter will accompany the neo-entrepreneur until the end of the month in the takeover of the biscuit factory.
It has been more than 60 years since cookies came out of avenue Michelet. Originally Biscuiterie Maury, when it was founded in the 1940s, the production methods have been more or less the same since the beginning. After several months of searching for a buyer, Marc and Christian Bitone have finally found the ideal candidate.

A family history

“During my previous job, I worked with the Bitone family as a banker. Everything arose from a discussion that sparked the desire to sell the family biscuit factory. It would have been a shame if a niche activity like this, which allows the survival of the local economy and about twenty families, all with a very committed team (some have been there for more than 40 years), were forcibly arrested,” says Stéphane. Chezal, the new manager.
Nineteen employees work there all year round, up to 25 or 26 employees with the available temporary workers. “Many residents of Agen used to work here. The factory was swarming with people and all three production lines were running at full capacity, compared to only one at the moment”, Marc and Christian Bitone recall nostalgically.

Marc Bitone, the former manager of Christian Bitone, hands over the baton.

Its founder is Simon Bitone, repatriated from Algeria to settle in Agen more than sixty years ago with the aim of preserving an ancestral tradition.

The latter saw the factory as an integral part of his life before handing over the reins of the family business to Marc and Christian Bitone. The torch has now been handed over to Stéphane Chezal.
“I own 60% of the shares. 40% is owned by Michel Emsalem (through the King Salomon company), who knows the place well, as the latter, as a distributor, through the King Salomon company, has close ties with the Bitone family and the Biscuiterie of Agen for decades. This allowed the company to happily continue in the past. Thanks to his involvement in the takeover project and his knowledge of the food and distribution sector, we were able to finalize our file. It has been official since 9 March, the Biscuiterie d’Agen has new managers”, continues Stéphane Chezal.

The Biscuiterie Agenaise team.

The Biscuiterie Agenaise team.

It produces various kosher cookies for and outside Passover, and unleavened bread. For Passover, Passover, the tradition is to prepare unleavened bread in memory of the ancients who ate unleavened bread when they left Egypt to escape slavery. During the Passover production period, which lasts four months, production is guaranteed kosher for Passover by the Beth Din of the Grand Rabbinate of Paris. Everything is worked out according to the rules of the Hebrew law. Very specific standards and criteria have to be respected. The products used, the production method, the cooking time… Nothing is left to chance. The collaboration with the Paris Consistory makes it possible to certify that the products are kosher for Passover.

The range of cookies is being expanded

The neo-entrepreneur also has a head full of ideas. “The goal is to grow the business. It is essential to offer a number of new features in the coming months. The direct sale of products to the factory has already started. The products are also considered. We want to expand our range by, for example, offering red/organic label products. Old recipes could also be brought up to date, with the idea of ​​taking back what worked by making a few changes. To gain visibility, a website has just been delivered. The biscuit factory will also be present on social networks. We want to work with local companies as much as possible, for raw materials, packaging, etc. We achieve an annual turnover of almost 2.7 million euros. We export our products almost everywhere, especially in Europe through our two brands, Biscuiterie d’Agen (now Biscuiterie Agenaise) and La Bienfaisante. In the medium term, the factory will move to new premises in the Agenais with a view to modernizing the means of production and increasing productivity,” concludes the new manager.
Note that open doors will likely be organized two or three times a year to allow the public to discover the biscuit factory.

Behind the biscuit factory machines

Behind the biscuit factory machines

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