Jul 29, 2021
Labège (France), July 29, 2021 (AFP) – Affected by the crisis in the sector, a Toulouse-based Airbus subcontractor diversifies by producing luxury luggage with “aeronautical technology” and the “vintage look” of Aéropostale in the hope of attracting a clientele of private aircraft owners.
“Before the crisis, our production was exclusively dedicated to the supply of composite parts and sub-assemblies, for example to fit out aircraft cabins,” explains Stéphane Trento, CEO of ST Composites.
From now on, this activity will coexist with luxury leather goods, making it possible to keep the company’s 30 employees, he says in his office in the suburbs of Toulouse, not far from where it was based almost a century the Aéropostale of which Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was one of the pilots.
Very high end
In this office are exhibited both a piece of aircraft furniture and the first productions of the new company ST Luxury: a watch box whose price is around 5,000 euros or a suitcase at around 9,000 euros.
Mr. Trento underlines the “resolutely vintage look reminiscent of the cabins of yesteryear” of this luggage which must be marketed before the end of the year.
“In the very structure of the luggage we will have composite parts, from the same tools, the same means of production” as those intended for aeronautics, he continues.
Instead of Airbus or Dassault, its new customers could be “aeronautics enthusiasts” or “the history of Aéropostale” including “people who have bought private jets”.
These customers will have the ability to ‘personalize’ their purchase: “They could, for example, request that a coin like this be made of 24 karat gold,” Mr. Trento said, pointing to a small metal coin.
Faced since March 2020 with a fall of 50 to 60% of its turnover, which was some 3.2 million euros before the crisis, ST Composites has decided to materialize this diversification project, the design of which began there. a few years ago.
Two million euros, notably used to buy two robots and a 3D printer, have therefore been invested in this project, to which the State has granted assistance of some 800,000 euros as part of the recovery plan.
A crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise 400,000 euros for ST Luxury has also been launched.
This diversification also includes research aimed at replacing chemicals used in aeronautics with products of natural origin.
Thus, bamboo fiber will replace the carbon fiber used in aeronautics. And, instead of today’s resins, ST will use “bio-based” resins that do not use the usual chemical components.
Stéphane Trento and his program manager, Thomas Couach, hope that this research will eventually make it possible to also use these “eco-responsible composites” in aeronautics.
In addition, other materials, in particular plastics, will have to be replaced in an attempt to achieve “zero waste” in the long term.
In one of the workshops, an operator shows a kind of silicone liner capable of replacing several plastic films used to wrap a part. “This change will also simplify my work,” he notes.
On the other hand, this “new luxury”, as Mr. Trento calls it, “prohibits the use, even if customers ask us, of exotic leathers”.
“There is no question for us of raising and killing crocodiles only to make a bag. They are leathers, calves or other, possibly printed with a + crocodile pattern +, but not exotic leathers”, specifies- he does.
Mr. Trento finally underlines his desire to limit unnecessarily polluting transport: “These objects will not go around the world before being assembled” because the ten or so subcontractors with whom he works are in Occitanie, even in Haute -Garonne.
dmc / ap / LySPar Daniel MARTINEZ
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