Lille's emblematic bookstore, the Furet du Nord is celebrating its hundredth anniversary.
In a century, the small neighborhood bookstore has become the leading bookseller in France.
Established for more than 60 years on the Grand-Place in Lille, the Furet is an emblematic place of Lille.
Fifteen years after celebrating its 70th birthday, the Northern Ferret is already celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Rest assured, no trip to the future is responsible for this acceleration of time.
Simply, a few years ago, the managers of the bookstore realized that the Ferret was born much earlier than they believed.
“In 2011, a customer brought us back a magazine called Furet du Nord which dated from 1923 and which was about books.
There, we thought we had a problem (laughs).
A young archivist did some research and found an official document which stipulated that the Furet du Nord had been registered as a bookstore, stationery, printing house in 1921 ”, says Pierre Coursières, president of the Furet du Nord-Decitre group.
In the top 3 of the largest bookstores in France
Another twist in the long history that links the Furet du Nord to the region and more particularly to Lille.
If it was therefore born a hundred years ago, the bookstore has mainly been located on the Grand-Place since 1959. Paul Callens, the boss at the time and the soul of the Ferret, then had the brilliant idea of transforming the little one. Classic bookstore in self-service bookstore where it was possible to stroll through the stalls without being tapped out by a salesperson.
A principle still relevant and taken up everywhere in France.
A real meeting place, the Furet de Lille and its 4,700m2 spread over six floors is one of the three largest bookshops in France (in terms of size and referencing) with Mollat in Bordeaux and the Fnac-Forum des Halles de Paris.
An emotional bond with Lille
Above all, this place known to everyone in Lille is the most frequented place in the city with three million visitors per year.
“It's a legendary store, a flagship of which the people of Lille are very proud.
In Lille, the book is the Ferret.
Everyone has a history with this place.
It's more than a store for people.
There is really an emotional bond around the brand which is quite incredible, ”assures Pierre Coursières.
Even if in a hundred years, the Lille bookstore has made a lot of children.
After having bought the Lyon bookstores Decitre in 2019, the Furet du Nord-Decitre group with its 32 stores (21 Furet and 11 Decitre) has become the leading bookseller in France with an annual turnover of 150 million euros.
The Ferret du Nord mastodon
A real juggernaut which can sometimes overshadow independent bookstores.
A criticism refuted by the boss of the group.
“I wish all independent bookstores to be in the shadow of the Ferret.
The more bookstores there are, the more flows it creates and the more everyone benefits.
Above all, you must not get the wrong fight.
Our common fight is access to reading, ”explains Pierre Coursières.
Access to reading which has boomed since the various confinements.
This is not to displease the Furet, so called because, according to urban legend, the bookstore replaced a furrier's shop.
Without knowing that a hundred years later, the Ferret was still running.
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