“Services of valet drivers, between strategies and health crisis”, Interview with Hugo RICARD, Blue Valet
Valet services are a sector affected by the health crisis. Indeed, from train stations and airports, these services are dependent on the comings and goings of tourists. Border closures, travel restrictions and apprehension of customers, valet services are obliged to adapt.
Valet service, how’s the Blue Valet market doing?
Blue Valet was founded in 2015 by Benoit and Hugo RICARD. Starting first at Bordeaux Mérignac airport, the two brothers tested their project and it paid off. Subsequently, Blue Valet launched two fundraisers in order to develop to become the European leader in valet parking. The company has grown by 100% every year and has established itself as a leader in Europe since 2018. The fundraisers allowed the company to open the service in new stations and airports in France and abroad.
Since 2015, Blue Valet has experienced a very strong growth rate. This has led to a large number of recruitments. In total, more than 350 employees are part of the Blue Valet family. However, being closely linked to stations and airports, the company has experienced ups and downs. Strikes and demonstrations in particular have had an impact on internal management and customer management. As a result, the service had to adapt to the context to remain open to customers.
What have been the impacts of the health crisis on the company’s business?
The health crisis of Covid-19 had a very significant impact on Blue Valet’s business. Thus, it forced the founders of Blue Valet to adapt their strategy in order to protect teams and customers. As a result, the service closed during the term of the confinement, from 15 March to 15 June 2020, placing employees partially unemployed. When it reopened in June, Blue Valet had the opportunity to recover 30 to 50% of its business. This being due to the possibility for the French to move again. As well as the re-commissioning of various airlines, such as Easyjet; or the easing of conditions for tickets, as with Ryanair.
To protect customers and teams, Blue Valet has made a point of honor to everyone’s safety: “The health protocol is very strict, every car is disinfected before and after each use”explains Hugo Ricard. Thus, valet drivers are equipped with gloves and hydroalcoholic gel is made available (1). The aim is to reassure customers and employees as much as possible, so that their customer experience is just as positive as before Covid.
However, with the arrival of the second wave in October, the service chose to close its doors again. A complicated decision but focused on thefuture.
Air and rail traffic is forecast to be too low by the end of 2020. Re-opening the service is expensive. Blue Valet prefers to preserve cash and jobs to re-open serenely in January 2021.
Hugo RICARD, co-founder of Blue Valet
What is Blue Valet’s strategy for the coming months?
“To begin with, the reopening of our service is the major step” says Hugo Ricard. Thus, the service is betting on a reopening in January, finds that the results on the vaccine are encouraging. Blue Valet hopes for vaccination so that the borders can open up again and people can move around. Indeed, a third wave would be very hard for the company. The health protocol will thus always be as rigorous as ever, in order to reassure and protect all the actors of the service. Blue Valet will be there for the takeover, with always as much fun to accompany its customers.
In addition, Blue Valet wants to continue to expand in Europe in order to register permanently as a European leader. After opening its services in Spain and Luxembourg, international development is underway. Projects planned for 2020 are therefore only partially postponed with a completion expected in 2021. To do this, the company intends to win back its shareholders and find new ones to finance their development.
Interview with Hugo RICARD, co-founder of Blue Valet, December 2, 2020