"In France, to be listened to, do you have to say that I risk going bankrupt?" : Anne Lechaczynski, head of the Verrerie de Biot since 2000, a family SME where she took over from her parents, is struggling to ensure that this artistic craftsmanship survives.
Because the electricity bill of the company, which employs fifteen people and achieves an annual turnover of 2 million euros, has exploded, going from 63.000 euros in 2022 to 184.000 euros in 2023.
Admittedly, she will receive around 60.000 euros in aid. But "there are 60.000 euros left to digest and the company will not be able to cope", confides this sixty-year-old who began her career in the United States as a "trader" in raw materials.
"For the past three months, I have somewhat returned to my old job. I hardly devote myself to my business anymore but to finding the cheapest electricity suppliers," she adds.
Belonging to a real niche, craftsmen and glass artists are only 400 left in France, including six in Biot. And they are "particularly impacted" by the rising cost of energy, explains Antoine Pierini, who works alone.
"The particularity of our activity, which distinguishes us from ceramics, for example, is that we must constantly maintain our glass melting furnaces at 1.200 degrees. At this temperature, it takes 15 days to extinguish a furnace without breaking it, and as much to bring it back to this temperature”, he explains.
"We must therefore keep them on permanently if we do not want to lose weeks of production", explains the craftsman, who must also face the "dizzying" rise in the price of the raw material: glass, imported from Germany, thus went from 1.400 to 3.000 euros per tonne.
"The Seven Plagues of Egypt"
"Flag carrier" since the 50s of a town of 10.000 inhabitants on which the prosperous technopole of Sophia-Antipolis is partly located, the glass factory "does not fit into the aid criteria provided for by the government", deplore concert mayor Jean-Pierre Dermit and deputy Eric Pauget, both LR.
With Senator (LR) Patricia Demas, they seized in October the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire and Olivia Grégoire, Minister Delegate in charge of small and medium-sized enterprises and crafts.
"Ms. Grégoire is aware of the problem, but the response provided is not adapted to the reality experienced by glassmakers", underlines the parliamentarian.
For the deputy, "strong decisions" are needed to preserve this profession which makes "the identity of a territory and represents a tourist wealth". Thus, the Biot glass factory attracts 600.000 tourists a year, according to the town hall. This would make it the 3rd tourist site in the Alpes-Maritimes.
Since 2015, "we have had the seven plagues of Egypt", quips Ms. Lechaczynski. "Floods, which destroyed all our stock, then the Covid, then the war in Ukraine, accompanied by the explosion in the price of energy".
"Paying a bill that is not the result of a bad vision of the entrepreneur that I am, I have trouble accepting it," adds this fighter, who wants to keep hope after being invited last week to a round table with the Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal, passing through Nice.
To find solutions, "we can now join an adviser to the end of the crisis at the Departmental Directorate of Public Finances", she recognizes. "This adviser will study the files on a case-by-case basis", promises the chief of staff of the prefecture.
"But we have to act quickly", insists the mayor of Biot: "If we stay in the state, next summer is going to be very complicated".