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Casabio: students meet the challenge of ethical commerce

Casabio, défi de la rentrée à Grenoble Ecole de Management
Published on
23 November 2018

As part of the first-year challenge at Grenoble Ecole de Management, first-year students in the Grande Ecole Program participated in the serious game Tech It! Casabio, an organic store brand in the Grenoble region shares its feedback after a fruitful challenge for innovation and creativity in management.

From Sept. 17 to Oct. 3, Grenoble Ecole de Management held its first-year challenge to welcome new students in the Grande Ecole Program. The first day, students took part in a game to acquire information, tools and habits that would help them carry out their final mission:  to design product and service ideas for the company of tomorrow. A professor and coach from GEM supported the students throughout the process.

Following the first step, they took part in the Tech It!, a serious game developed by GEM. Thanks to the game, they dreamt up 152 innovative service and product ideas for partner companies such as April, Collaborative Energy, Décathlon, FM Logistic or STMicroelectronics. Casabio also took part in the experience and agreed to share its feedback from the experience.

Casabio: a model for ethical management

Created in Grenoble in 1978, Casabio is an independent organic brand affiliated with Biocoop since 1996. Biocoop is the leading national cooperative network in France (440 stores). Yann Laurent is the director of three Casabio stores in the Grenoble region. The company became a cooperative company in 2003.

Having worked in the retail industry, Yann Laurent wanted to break with "management methods based on fear and instead focus on trust and autonomy for employees." This change was fruitful as Casabio went from three million euros of turnover in 2003 to ten million this year. The company also grew from 15 employees to 62.

A game of Q&A

The students focused on how to improve the brand's management model by carrying out a 360 degree analysis of the business environment. "I shared a maximum amount of information related to our organization, our management principles and the advantages and limitations of our model. The key point for us is to work towards a more respectful environment. And I certainly don't have all the answers!" underlines Yann. During three hour and half interviews with three groups of students, Yann was quickly led to answer a variety of questions. "The students were quick and their advice interesting."

The challenge of implementing a fair transformation

Students worked on several challenges. For example, they helped with the creation of an interface to increase ties between producers and customers via short circuits, including the production of a mini-film on the subject of a key product sold by the company. Students offered advice in terms of writing catchy copy and how to create desire in consumers.

Casabio also focuses on fair trade. “We looked at challenges tied to geopolitics. Where, who, and how do we get our supply in Europe and around the world? How can we continue to improve our ethical approach to supply? How can we improve support for local producers? The challenge is to keep a balance throughout the chain from producers to consumers. This means ensuring proper pay for farmers as well as affordable prices for consumers,” explains Yann.

One innovative project includes Casabio’s plan to employ a farmer. “The idea is to secure our supply needs and at the same time guarantee a salary for a farmer,” concludes Yann.

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