Sales Representative in France

Overview by

Commercial Intermediaries

Trading Companies
  • Type of Organization
Being listed with trading groups is an obligatory step for breaking into the hypermarket sales market. The cost of getting onto the listing can be substantial and promotional operations are at the supplier's expense. The distributors do not negotiate with foreign suppliers. That is why it is necessary to go through a French intermediary (a non-manufacturing importer, a manufacturer of similar products, a service company).
  • Main Actors
Five trading groups make 90% of purchases from suppliers: Carrefour-Promodès (29% share of the French food market); Lucie, the trading group common to Leclerc and to Système U (22%) ; Opéra, the trading group bringing together Casino-Cora (but also Franprix, Leader Price, Monoprix-Prisunic) (19%) ; Auchan (14%) ; Intermarché (13%).
  • Type of Organization
In addition to their role as a commercial intermediary, wholesalers also offer services such as making up, storage, repackaging, delivery, etc. Wholesalers are generally specialized in a certain type of convenience goods (food or not) or in equipment for industry and the craft industry.
  • Main Actors
Rungis wholesale market; Pomona ; DCDistribution
Useful Resources
The French Confederation of trade between companies
The French network of wholesale markets
The portal for international trade professionals

Using a Commercial Agent

The Advantages
More realistic for a small or medium enterprise in regards to marketing strategy. Most often, they are exclusive agents for the whole country.
Where to Be Vigilant
The agent should be chosen for his motivation, his interest in the product, his references and the range of products he is in charge of. Supplementary commercial investments will be necessary to support the agent's work (catalogs, samples of products, etc.)
Elements of Motivation
The total amount of commission is an important element for motivation. Having recourse to a system of contests and competition between agents is sometimes practiced. Supervision and close contact may be necessary for a good follow-up of the agent's activity.
The Average Amount of Commission
An agent on commission is paid according to the turnover he achieves.
Breach of Contract
The termination of an agency contract is carried out with one month's notice during the first year, two month's notice the second year, and three month's notice the third and following years. The agent is entitled to compensation if he is not the cause of the breach of contract.
Finding a Commercial Agent
The national federation of commercial agents
Sales France, network of independent sales persons
Laniac, national and international directory of commercial agents
Find an independant commercial agent
Find Sales and Distribution Service Providers in France on

Setting Up a Commercial Unit

The Advantages
Setting up in France is very expensive.
Where to Be Vigilant
It should be considered especially with a long term view.
Different Possible Forms of Settlement
  • A Representative Office
A representative office may be necessary to obtain data about the market and to provide promotional support. However, as a representative office cannot be involved in commercial transactions or generate income, it cannot manage orders directly.
  • A Branch Office
A branch office can take and fill orders and carry out a marketing or advertising program, recruit the sales force and carry out promotional activities. Setting up a branch office is considered as a direct investment and must be declared to the Ministry of Finance. Nevertheless, the branch office is not liable to French taxes.
  • A Company
Setting up a subsidiary needs time and leads to considerable expenses. However, it offers a better guarantee of protection for the registered trade mark, of obtaining credit and of breaking into the market.


Evolution of the Sector
The French franchise sector is the leader in Europe in terms of sales (43 billion euros). 10% of the franchises present in France are foreign. Franchises are established in the sectors of real estate, cars, clothing, perfumes, foodstuffs, glasses and restaurants.
Some Big Franchises
La Forêt, real estate
Feu Vert, cars
Kiabi, clothing
Marionnaud, perfumes
Pizza Hut, restaurants
Les Mousquetaires, foodstuffs
Ranking of franchises
For Further Information
The French Franchise Federation
The Franchise Observatory

Finding Assistance

Export Trading Companies
The portal for international trade professionals
Find more on about Selling to France.

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