Entrepreneur Sebastien Guyot has left behind the corporate world of finance and is embarking on a mission to provide Australians with the tools to make the most of the great outdoors around them.
Guyot has brought French outdoor furniture retailer Alice’s Garden to the Australian market, expanding the brand to its fifth country since its launch in 2010. The business, which sells outdoor settings, umbrellas and trampolines, is also in operation in Spain, Belgium and the UK .
After years working in the banking sector in France and then later at Deloitte and Commonwealth Bank upon moving to Australia, Guyot tells SmartCompany he was on the lookout for a business opportunity that would see him have more freedom over what he does day to day.
“It’s completely different and that’s the appeal of the challenge,” Guyot says.
“The second thing is it’s about buying my own freedom, and the third is that the products that we offer are tangible, moreso than [the world of] finance.”
The Australian business launched with a team of three people this year, and Guyot says he came to approach Alice’s Garden about bringing the operation to the Australian market after his friend launched the brand Spanish market after securing a licencing arrangement three years ago.
Guyot says there is a significant opportunity in the local furniture market that Alice’s Garden is keen to exploit by offering products that fit with the outdoors-focused lifestyle of many Aussies.
“I think there is a gap in the Australian market for outdoor furniture. There is not much between the high-end and the Kmarts,” he explains.
While there’s “some action” from the likes of Temple and Webster in the space, Guyot says Alice’s Garden differs because it is able to offer different designs to what is available at mainstream retailers.
“With us, the difference is we position in the middle market but we own our stock. We have the stock on hand, and these products have been designed for Europe, so the styles are different.”
While the company won’t reveal revenue targets, Guyot is confident the team can build the brand into a million-dollar business locally.
He’s also conscious of the importance of engaging with the community and hopes the brand’s support of the Cancer Council will give back to those working to fight skin cancer in Australia.
The business is pledging to donate $3 of every sale to the organisation.
“Why did we do that? We did that because we sell outdoor products, and the outdoors are good, but in Australia, it’s quite sunny and can be quite dangerous,” Guyot says.
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Chief executive of Cancer Council Australia Professor Sanchia Aranda says this kind of support from local brands was an integral to its operation as a charity.
“We are really grateful to community supporters, like Alice’s Garden, who agree to make an ongoing commitment to donate to us and help fund our work across cancer prevention, support, advocacy and research,” Aranda says.
Australians may not have heard of Alice’s Garden before, but Guyot says the business will develop a following because of three key ingredients on offer.
“What we would emphasise is that we like what we do, we try to have something a little bit different, and we have a partnership to help the community.”