Iconic warrior, philosopher, philanthropist, beautiful or even ill-advised dreamer others will tell you not to run after money. Because businessman Cyril Oezrat can increase his sales thanks to his genius in thinking about the hotel industry. But he prefers to break the rules, question us, reinvent the hospitality of tomorrow and, above all, place the environment and the social and solidarity economy at the heart of his matrix. Through his holding company MOB Republic, he proves to us that we can reconcile profitability with convictions. Meeting in Saint-Ouen (93), an area where he participates in the boom with Cannes, New York on the horizon …
We see you experimenting with new concepts in the hotel industry from Saint-Ouen (93) which is a bit like your laboratory…
Cyril Oezrat: From Saint-Ouen, I defend the entrepreneurial logic by saying that Paris has now reached saturation in many subjects, so I wanted to cross the ring road and settle in an area with strong values. Saint-Ouen thought about economics and the social environment a very long time ago with Puces, which is ultimately the predecessor of the second-hand 3.0 trend. It was indeed a response to the problems of overconsumption. Saint-Ouen has always dealt with social and cultural diversity, proving that there were no urban deaths. In Paris, it is difficult for many French people to find accommodation there, having the same offer as in many areas.
Through the MOB Republic contract, we seek to develop strong concepts around sustainable tourism. Under this sponsorship we have opened MOB Hotel, MOB House here in Saint-Ouen, and next year, we will launch Villa MOB in Cannes or Terre MOB in Yvelines.
So you are an entrepreneur on a mission. Your latest book, Thinking Hospitality, the result of a conversation with philosopher Gabrielle Halpern, focuses on the concept of crossbreeding to create better bonds. Why are we at a tipping point?
Crises overlap, and our youth are more militant and demanding accountability. Businesses must understand that there is an urgent need to comply with environmental values and social justice. If you do not join a virtuous circle today, tomorrow you will be punished by these consumer representatives who have become radical in their choices. As a hotelier, I then asked myself the question whether “a hotel is more than a hotel”, whether it has “a role to play in rethinking the city, reviving the countryside, creating…”. Obviously, we can no longer replicate the same sterile establishments in New York, Cannes, or Paris.
This model has lived. The hotel should be designed as a space anchored in its grounds, a place that is open to and beneficial to the residents of the area. A coral reef where associations and companies can be welcomed during events that contribute to the city’s attractiveness. All of this must be based on foundations, a promise to use biological materials, to serve 100% organic food and in short circuits. And this is exactly what we reconcile in our institutions with the aim of achieving energy independence tomorrow.
This “counter-model” certainly has a price. Many believe that these principles are incompatible with profitability. How do you reconcile the two?
You know when I opened the MOB Hotel in Saint-Ouen in 2021, and then, a few blocks away, the MOB House in 2022, we thought I’d kill my first hotel. Quite the opposite happened! There is a real demand for people to experience a vacation that is different and matches their convictions. We also welcome people who live to 17y18yand up to 16y ! Provincial customers and tourists are numerous. Our profitability is currently at 6%, so yes, we could double if we stopped making organic products made in France, but I believe in the symbolic values of the company. Don’t pay shortsighted.
I never wanted to invite pension funds to my table, the strong funds of my capital. Around me, I have figures from the business world who adhere to these social and solidarity values, such as Michel Ripert. A major industrialist whose reputation is unparalleled, who understands my project and wants to support it. Together, we achieve growth and profitability and invest to always go above and beyond.
Cyril Oezrat: ” As a hotelier, I then asked myself the question whether the hotel had no role to play in rethinking the city, reviving the countryside, creating connections…“.
You are invited to share your entrepreneurial success with reputable business schools here and elsewhere. To the decision makers of tomorrow who are listening to you, what do you convey to them?
I do not give them an eco-education! I am an entrepreneur who achieved 150 million euros in turnover in 2022 by weakening his convictions in his judgment. You have to prove, prove that what you do works. In my speeches, I insist on this point: You must not sell Utopia! As a business manager, I am not here to sell dreams to my employees, to make my companies or partners lose money, I am fighting every day to add value to my business. When you want to materialize your ideas, you are determined to succeed. Don’t be a “quick thinker,” but a leader with a real project, and get people drawn to it. Creating a startup, promoting it in order to sell it to the highest bidder as soon as possible, means giving in to temporal sirens.
As for chess, let’s take it as “American style”. It seems to me that the greatest American entrepreneurs in your famous ranking are not bad examples!
With MOB Republic Holdings, you can multiply projects while standardizing your model every time. What do you expect in the medium term?
We want to be more ecological, inclusive and pioneering than ever before. Our three MOB hotels are the only ones in Europe with organic farming certification. We make our shampoos using natural and organic products, an approach that took us three years to process! Next year in Cannes during the festival we will open “Villa Medicis MOB” with the aim of participating in the documentary. The future “Terre MOB” will be created in the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse Natural Park in the Yvelines. The principle would be to offer a country hotel, semi-peasant, with the idea of being completely immersed in the meadows, with breeding, market gardening… We are discussing with the city council, the county, the natural park administration to get all the validations.
We are an increasingly visible and organized community of business women and men like the Darwin Ecosystem in Purdue where my friend Philip Barry and his teams are doing exceptional work. MOB will soon be prepared nearby. Collectively, we are creating a strong and sustainable social economy that creates jobs. We – like all humans – are imperfect, but we work to not participate in the destruction of life.
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