From the Second World War to today André Sales has spanned the ages in Millau

From the Second World War to today André Sales has spanned the ages in Millau

Christophe Sales continues the family tradition. Free lunch – Pauline Chaliez

In our series on leather-related professions, Midi Libre went to meet the well-known André Sales house in Millau.

"I was not supposed to join the company", says Christophe Sales, current manager of the André Sales company, well known to the Millavois. "When I was young, I was in a lot of uncertainty about my professional future which led me to a somewhat chaotic course in higher education", he confides with a smile.

A tannery on the quays of Tarn

Entering law school hoping to obtain a Deug while also passing the journalism competition, he changed his objective along the way and finally obtained his law degree in Montpellier. If the course itself has not won him over, it has some wonderful encounters. Still uncertain about his outcome, he works every summer in Millau, in his father's company, and decides to stay there for a few months. Christophe Sales recounts the investment of his father and grandfather in the family business created in 1850 by the latter's grandfather. "Originally, Emile (my great great grandfather) and Joseph had a tannery on the quays of Tarn nicknamed Les Frères Sales. In 1874, a huge flood destroyed it." 

“I often sing in the street”

The man's ambition is to perpetuate the family business in a situation that he describes as "particularly difficult" for several years: "I hope for my colleagues and all Millavois traders that the economic context will already stabilize and that& rsquo;he can finally improve, then." Passionate about music, Christophe Sales easily admits that he would have dreamed of being a record store owner. "But I wasn't born at quite the right time for that", he jokes. And to add as if to illustrate his atypical personality: "I sing, it’s my way of expressing myself. Everything I don't say otherwise, I express by singing. And I often sing in the street."

Accessories for the army during the war

The company then moved to avenue Jean-Jaurès in the current premises of one of the Sales boutiques. The first store was opened in 1925, the André Sales name in 1934 with the development of a range of small leather goods. During the Second World War, the company manufactured accessories for the army: belts, gloves, cartridge belts, etc. In 1942, a department of satchels, pencil cases and backpacks was created. And it was in 1947 that Christophe Sales' grandfather launched the manufacture of gloves which lasted until 1985. His father and uncle benefited from the craze for leather and its peak in Millavois during the 30 Glorieuses. The company evolves with the times, a range of clothing is marketed, furs, shearlings, etc.

"I'm a bit of a wildcat"

André Sales opens up to three stores in Millau and still has two to date: the historic avenue Jean-Jaurès which has expanded considerably and the Place du Mandarous . "We have always adapted to times, fashions, needs, circumstances, global warming…" explains Christophe Sales who manages today a team of five employees. In store, their 100% local and artisanal production of bags, small leather goods, luggage and belts, rub shoulders with the products of the big brands that they distribute. "My father and my grandfather absolutely insisted that I be in contact with customers, which was not in my nature, admits the craftsman. So it was a learning process. I'm a bit of a wild cat so it made me more sociable. I started in 1995 at the bottom of the ladder, for two years. Little by little, my father, who held the company at arm's length, involved me in orders, salons in Paris, etc. He devoted himself body and soul to the company, as for me, I always did the best possible. It's interesting to always develop and acquire new skills."

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