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The confectionery conservatory in Amboise threatened with closure

France bleu, 06.04.2022

Is this already the end of the story for the Amboise confectionery conservatory? This site, which serves as a museum and candy store, has been open since July and closure seems imminent. His boss, tenant of the premises, is facing eviction for unpaid rent.

© Radio France – Adrien Bossard

Inside, it’s a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. At the Amboise confectionery conservatory, visitors discover from A to Z the manufacture of sweets carried out with old machines from the last century. The 900 m² warehouse serves as both a museum and a creation site. A place “unique in Europe”, according to its boss, Nicolas Viollet. But for how much longer?

The 37-year-old young entrepreneur is only a tenant of the premises and is threatened with eviction, following a court decision handed down at the end of December. He owes 114,000 euros to his owner, an English land company. The amount corresponds to unpaid rent and penalties. His childhood dream is crumbling “because of Covid-19”, he says. A story of bad timing. “I signed the lease in November 2019 to start carrying out work in spring 2020,” explains Nicolas Viollet. “And in March, everything stopped because of the health crisis.

© Radio France – Adrien Bossard

I really feel like I’m collateral damage from Covid-19

The banks are letting go. His project was put on hold for a year and a half. By the time it manages to take out loans again, it won’t open until July 2021. But with no money coming in until then, he was unable to pay the rent of 4,400 euros per month. And the owner, every month, came to claim his dues. Until taking legal action.

© Radio France – Adrien Bossard

“I was not able to count on state aid linked to Covid-19 because to be entitled to it, I had to present an accounting balance sheet or an operating loss,” continues Nicolas Viollet. I couldn’t show them anything because I didn’t have any activity. Ultimately, we don’t help those who are starting a business. I really feel like I’m collateral damage from Covid-19. I find it incredible that there is not a system that can make up for this lack of rent. Which means that today, the company will disappear.”

The bailiff recently came to warn him that he would soon seize his equipment – estimated at 380,000 euros – to settle the debt, if he was unable to do so on his own. Nicolas Viollet is now feverishly awaiting expulsion. “The police told me they were going to leave me alone during the Easter holidays but after that I could be thrown out at any time.”

Adrien Bossard