© 2015, Greg Lessard
We've now reached the end of a long road through the language of business French. We've explored the following things:
In passing, you have worked on a variety of texts, exploring their equivalents in English and answering comprehension questions along the way. This last module brings all these areas together by means of sample texts from these areas. Your goal in each case should be to understand the text and to check your understanding by comparing it with the translation provided. You should also try the comprehension questions following each text to see how well you can use your knowledge of business French to get at the core of each text, as you would in a business environment. In any case where you find that you have problems, you should go back to the appropriate module and check your understanding.
You have been asked by your employer to set up and furnish a new branch office of your firm. After looking at several online catalogues, you are struck by the following one (Source: Fournitures de bureau Denis). You need to furnish an executive office, two staff offices, and a meeting room and a reception area. Read the following list carefully and decide which items you will need to check out. If you have difficulty with any of the terms, consult the translation below. But don't do this right away: try to use what you have learned so far, or else use Google image search to see a picture of items corresponding to the different terms.
- What items would you look at for the executive office?Answer
You would probably want to look at Mobiliers de bureau exécutif, Fauteuils exécutifs, and perhaps Étagères, Caissons mobiles.
- What materials would you look for to furnish the waiting room?Answer
Probably Fauteuils visiteurs/réception, and depending how long people will be waiting, Vestiaires et porte-manteaux. For the receptionist, you would look at Mobiliers de réception.
- How would you furnish the meeting room?Answer
You would probably need to look at Tables de réunion/formation and, depending on how much you wanted to spend, either Fauteuils ergonomiques or Chaises empilables et pliantes.
- How would you furnish the two staff offices?Answer
You would probably look at the Postes de travail, some kind of Classeurs, and perhaps Fauteuils ergonomiques à haut dossier.
Executive furniture Storage Executive office furniture (59) Dollies (8) Modular workstations (96) Closets and coat racks (20) Reception area furniture (17) Cabinets (31) Shelves (8) Computing furniture Bookshelves Home office (21) Computing tables and workstations (13) Chairs Workstations (40) Specialized and 24-hour chairs (15) Executive chairs Filing cabinets (126) Directors' chairs (12) Flat filing cabinets (12) Ergonomic high-back chairs (15) Lateral filing cabinets (17) Metal lateral filing cabinets (30) Ergonomic chairs (36) Metal vertical filing cabinets (26) Operators' chairs (15) Movable small filing cabinets (27) Designers chairs and stools (16) Fireproof filing cabinets and safes (14) Industrial chairs and stools (8) Folding and stacking chairs (41) Reception and visitors' chairs (18) Break room chairs (2) Casters (6) Chair mats (11) Tables (55) Adjustable height tables (8) Folding tables (13) Meeting/training tables (15) Conference tables (12) Bistro/Cafeteria tables (7)
In an earlier module, we talked about the Première Moisson baking chain. The following news story explains a recent development in the chain's business model. Imagine that you are Micheline (of the lemonade business) and you're wondering what the future might hold. Read the article in detail and try to understand the financial elements involved. Then answer the comprehension questions below:
L’épicier Metro achète une participation de 75% dans la boulangerie québécoise Première Moisson pour un montant qui n’a pas été révélé.
La famille Colpron-Fiset, qui a fondé Première Moisson en 1992, conservera 25% du capital de la boulangerie et continuera d’assurer la gestion de l’entreprise.
«Grâce à ce partenariat avec le leader québécois de la distribution alimentaire, Première Moisson passe d’un seul coup d’une entreprise familiale à une PME nationale», a commenté la présidente de Première Moisson, Liliane Colpron, estimant le chiffre d’affaires annuel de son entreprise à 100 millions de dollars : «En excluant notre partenariat avec Metro, nos revenus se situent à environ 80 millions de dollars par année», a-t-elle révélé à l’occasion d’un point de presse tenu à l’établissement Première Moisson du Marché Atwater, à Montréal.
Mme Colpron dit avoir reçu d’autres offres dans le passé, mais qu’elle n’était alors pas intéressée à vendre son entreprise. Ses enfants Josée, Bernard et Stéphane Fiset vont aussi demeurer au sein de la direction de Première Moisson.
«Ce partenariat avec Première Moisson, la référence en boulangerie au Québec, nous permettra de différencier davantage nos bannières en répondant encore mieux aux besoins de nos clients à la recherche des meilleurs produits frais en boulangerie, pâtisserie et mets cuisinés», a déclaré Éric R. La Flèche, président et chef de la direction de Metro.
Le partenariat couvre les parts détenues par la famille Colpron-Fiset dans les 23 magasins de Première Moisson et les trois centres de production, situés à Dorion, Baie-D’Urfé et Terrebonne.
Le dirigeant de Metro a ajouté qu’il prévoyait implanter des kiosques Première Moisson dans ses épiceries et que de nouveaux établissements allaient voir le jour tant au Québec qu’en Ontario: «Doubler le nombre actuel est tout à fait possible», a-t-il affirmé.
L’entente conclue avec Metro prévoit le maintien des emplois chez Première Moisson ainsi que des partenariats en place avec des boulangers-propriétaires. La chaîne de produits de boulangerie compte 1200 employés.
Source: Article de Denis Lalonde in Les affaires
- Who bought a share in Première Moisson? What share? For how much?Answer
The Metro grocery chain bought a 75% share. The price was not disclosed.
- How many production facilities does Première Moisson have?Answer
Three, at Dorion, Baie-D'Urfé and Terrebonne.
- How many employees does Première Moisson have? What effect will the agreement have on them?Answer
There are currently 1200 employees. Their jobs will not be lost.
- When was Première Moisson founded? By whom?Answer
It was founded in 1992 by the Colpron-Fiset family.
- How much did Première Moisson make through its relationship with Metro?Answer
You need to do some math for this: total sales were $100 million; sales outside the relationship with Metro were $80 million, so the difference is $20 million.
The Metro grocery chain has purchased a 75% share in the Québec bakery Première Moisson for an undisclosed amount.
The Colpron-Fiset family, which founded Première Moisson in 1992, will retain a 25% share in the bakery and will continue to manage the company.
"Thanks to this partnership with Québec's leader in food distribution, Première Moisson goes from being a family business to a national SME", commented the president of Première Moisson, Liliane Colpron, who estimated the current annual sales of her firm at 100 million dollars. "Excluding our partnership with Metro, our income is around 80 million dollars a year", she revealed during a press conference held at the Première Moisson outlet at the Atwater Market in Montréal.
Mme said that she had received other offers in the past, but that she wasn't interested in selling her company. Her children, Josée, Bernard and Stéphane Fiset will also remain on the direction of Première Moisson.
"This partnership with Première Moisson, the top of the line in Québec bakeries, will allow us to better differentiate our brands and better respond to the needs of our customers who are searching for more quality and freshness in baked goods and pastries as well as cooked meats", declared Éric R. La Flèche, president and director general of Metro.
The partnership covers the shares held by the Colpron-Fiset family in the 23 Première Moisson stores and the three production centres situated at Dorion, Baie-D'Urfé and Terrebonne.
The Metro director added that he expected to add Première Moisson kiosques in his grocery stores and that new establishments would be opened in both Québec and Ontario: "Doubling the current number is certainly possible", he said.
The agreement with Metro includes maintaining current jobs at Première Moisson as well as current partnerships with baker-operators. The bakery chain has 1200 employees.
You work in the personnel department of a small computer company (Logiciels etc.). While your boss is on vacation, you are reading her mail. You are expected to deal with those items you can in her absence and pass along to her items which you think she should see.
Your company is beginning to grow. It is not currently hiring, but you do get the occasional letter from someone interested in working for you. In the coming years, the company expects to be producing a series of apps for mobile phones, especially Android phones. The following letter arrives in the post. Read it and then answer the comprehension questions below. A translation is provided after the comprehension questions. Focus in particular on the match, or absence of match, between your company's needs and the information provided in the letter.
Le 18 novembre 2015
Madame Pierrette Després
Directrice des ressources humaines
2567, avenue Terrehaute
À la suggestion de Madame Gisèle Laforêt, programmeure dans votre entreprise, j'ai le plaisir de vous faire parvenir ma candidature au poste de programmeur. Je crois posséder les compétences nécessaires pour occuper ce poste.
J'ai beaucoup lu sur Logiciels, Inc. et sur vos produits, et je crois comprendre que vous faites des percées intéressantes dans le domaine de la téléphonie mobile. Il me semble que ce domaine est appelé à croître de façon importante dans les années à venir. Je suppose donc que vous serez à la recherche de programmeurs compétents pour améliorer vos produits actuels et pour en développer de nouveaux.
Comme vous pourrez le constater à la lecture de mon curriculum vitae, j'ai obtenu un diplôme de première classe en informatique de l'Université Queen's en Ontario. J'ai le français comme langue maternelle, mais je suis tout à fait trilingue (français, anglais, espagnol). Au cours de mes études, j'ai développé des compétences dans plusieurs langages de programmation, notamment Java, C, et Objective-C. J'ai fait partie d'une équipe qui a gagné le premier prix au concours jeunes programmeurs parrainé par IBM et Google. Depuis la fin de mes études en 2013, je travaille dans un labo d'informatique universitaire, mais j'ai maintenant le goût de me lancer dans le monde des affaires.
Je serais heureux de discuter avec vous de mes compétences particulières. Entretemps, je demeure à votre disposition pour tout autre renseignement que vous jugeriez à propos de connaître.
Je vous remercie de prendre la peine d'examiner ma candidature.
Recevez, Madame, mes salutations distinguées.
200, rue West
(Source: adapted from a model letter on the Service Canada site)
- Does the applicant show any evidence of competence in computing?Answer
Yes. She got a first class degree in the subject, she can program in several languages, and she was on a team that won a competition sponsored by IBM and Google.
- Does the applicant have skills in languages which would be useful for developing mobile apps? (You will need to Google this.)Answer
Most Android apps are written in Java, most iOS apps in Objective-C, so her experience is a very good fit.
- Your company functions in French, and employees must be able to speak and write well in that language. How would you evaluate this applicant's language skills in French based on the letter?Answer
The letter is well-constructed and the candidate claims to be trilingual, a potential advantage in presentations to clients.
- Is there a way of getting more information about the applicant?Answer
The candidate mentions a programmer in your company. You might speak with her.
- Should you:
- throw the letter out?
- show it to your supervisor on her return?Answer
The letter looks very good, so it might be useful to show it to your supervisor.
November 18, 2015
Madame Pierrette Després
Directrice des ressources humaines
2567, avenue Terrehaute
On the advice of Madame Gisèle Laforêt, a programmer in your company, I am submitting my application for the a position as programmer. I believe I have the necessary skills to occupy such a position.
I have read a lot about Logiciels, Inc. and your products, and I believe that you are making some interesting advances in the mobile phone market. It seems to me that this market is destined to grow significantly in the years to come. This leads me to believe that you will be seeking competent programmers to improve your current products and develop new ones.
As you can see from my CV, I obtained a first-class degree in Computing from Queen's University in Ontario. French is my first language, but I am fluently trilingual in French, English and Spanish. In the course of my studies, I became competent in a number of programming languages, in particular Java, C and Objective-C. I was part of a team which won the first prize in a young programmers contest sponsored by IBM and Google. Since finishing my studies in 2013, I have been working in a university research lab, but I now wish to get involved in the world of business.
I would be happy to discuss my particular skills with you. In the meantime, I remain at your disposition for any further information you might require.
Thank you for considering my application.
200 West Street
In an earlier module, we saw how firms present an annual review of the state of their finances, the problems they have faced, their successes and failures, and their plans for the future. The following text follows in the same vein. Like the Bombardier text we saw earlier, it uses a question-and-answer format.
The corporation represented here is Danone, which makes yogourt, healthy drinks and other food products. For a short history, see Danone, Notre histoire (also available in English). The portion of the interview here is with Franck Riboud, the son of one of the founders, who is moving to a more long-term vision role, and Emmanuel Faber, who is assuming the day-to-day direction of the firm.
Read the following extract and using what you have learned, try to determine if Danone is currently successful. Look also for the challenges the firm is facing and its directions for the future. A translation into English is provided below the comprehension questions in case any parts of the text are unclear.
QUEL REGARD PORTEZ-VOUS SUR LE BILAN DE L’ANNÉE 2014 ?
F. R. : 2014 aura été une année charnière, marquée par des transformations majeures destinées à préparer le futur de l’entreprise. Nous avons notamment tracé les grandes lignes directrices du projet Danone 2020, qui doit orienter les prochaines étapes de notre développement. Dans le même temps, l’année s’est déroulée dans un contexte économique mondial instable, complexe, caractérisé par des fluctuations de prix des matières premières et de devises sur des marchés significatifs pour Danone, comme la Russie ou l’Argentine. Pourtant, les objectifs que nous nous étions fixés en début d’année et que nous avions annoncés, nous les avons atteints. Ce n’était pas gagné d’avance. Nous pouvons en être fiers. Cela démontre la force de nos marques et l’engagement de nos équipes. Et nous permet d’envisager l’avenir avec optimisme : nous avons tous les atouts pour assurer la croissance rentable et durable de l’entreprise à l’horizon 2020 et au-delà.
E. F. : Ce que nous avons réussi en 2014, avec le retour à une croissance rentable au second semestre, constitue une base solide sur laquelle Danone va s’appuyer pour 2015 et les années à venir. Nous enregistrons une croissance de notre chiffre d’affaires de 4,7 %, et nous sommes en ligne avec nos prévisions, notamment de marge opérationnelle et de free cash-flow.
Au cours de l’année, nous avons fait des progrès significatifs sur de nombreux marchés, notamment en Europe, où les actions combinées de rénovation des gammes de produits et d’accroissement de la compétitivité commencent à porter leurs fruits. Nous avons poursuivi la construction de notre portefeuille et continué à nous développer sur des marchés de croissance, particulièrement en Asie et en Afrique. Chacun de nos quatre métiers, les Produits Laitiers Frais, les Eaux, la Nutrition Infantile et la Nutrition Médicale, contribue à nos performances, à notre mission et à notre stratégie de croissance. Ce bilan positif nous a permis de proposer un dividende en hausse, de 1,50 euro par action.(Source: Rapport annuel Danone, 2014)
- Did Danone meet its performance targets for the year?Answer
Yes. Pourtant, les objectifs que nous nous étions fixés en début d’année et que nous avions annoncés, nous les avons atteints.
- What timeframe is the company planning for?Answer
- How much did the company grow its business in 2014?Answer
- What markets is the company working at developing?Answer
Asia and Africa.
- What main divisions does the company include?Answer
Fresh Dairy products, Waters, Infant Foods, Medical Nutrition.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE 2014 BALANCE SHEET?
F. R. : 2014 has been a pivotal year, marked by major transformations designed to prepare the future of the enterprise. In particular, we sketched out the major elements of the Danone 2020 project, which will give direction to the next steps in our development. At the same time, the year unfolded in an unstable and complex world economic climate, characterized by fluctuations in the price of raw materials and currencies in important markets for Danone, like Russia or Argentina. However, we reached the objectives that we had set and announced at the beginning of the year. It was not guaranteed that we would be able to do that, so we can be proud of the accomplishment. It shows the strength of our brands and the dedication of our teams. This allows us to look forward to the future with optimism: we have all the advantages for ensuring cost-efficient and durable progress until 2020 and beyond.
E. F. : What we accomplished in 2014, with our return to cost-efficient growth in the second quarter, provides a solide basis that Danone can build upon for 2015 and the coming years. Our business grew by 4.7%, and we are in line with our forecasts, especially concerning our operational margins and free cash-flow.
Over the course of the year, we made significant progress in many markets, especially in Europe, where the combined actions of renovating product lines and increasing our competitive edge have started to bear fruit. We have continued to construct our portfolio and have continued to develop in growing markets, especially in Asia and Africa. Each of our four major areas, Fresh Dairy Products, Waters, Infant Nutrition and Medical Nutrition, has contributed to our performance, our mission and our growth strategy. This positive balance sheet has allowed us to increase dividents by 1.50 euros per share.
In an earlier module, we saw that detailed financial data can provide a window into a firm's state of health. We have just seen some positive language from the directors of Danone about the year just ended. The following image is taken from a page of the fuller financial report for the year (source: Danone Annual Report). Read it in detail to see whether the figures support the positive arguments. Then look more carefully at comparative figures within each category to determine areas of greater relative strength or weakness. Once you have read the passage carefully, answer the comprehension questions below. (A translation is provided at the end in case you have difficulties with any of the terms._
- Which of the four product categories had the highest earnings? Which had the lowest?Answer
Fresh dairy products had the highest earnings (11,129,000,000 euros). Medical nutrition had the lowest (1,432,000,000 euros).
- Which category grew the most? Which grew the least?Answer
Fresh dairy products grew the least (growth of 1.5%) while Waters grew the most (growth of 11.6%).
- Which of France and Russia was the biggest market for Danone products?Answer
France, by a narrow margin, with 10% of sales in 2014. Russia represented 9% of sales.
- What percentage of the company's business is done in emerging economies?Answer
- What two figures provide positive indicators of the company's health?Answer
1,401,000,000 euros of free cash flow (earnings minus investments in assets), which means that the company has funds to work toward the future; 1.5 euros dividend per share, which means that the company is rewarding its investors.
KEY FINANCIAL INDICATORS
Division of business by category (in millions of euros)
1 Fresh dairy products 11,129 (growth of 1.5%*)
2 Waters 4,186 (growth of 11.6%*)
3 Infant Nutrition 4,397 (growth of 6.1%*)
4 Medical Nutrition 1,432 (growth of 7.9%*)
* Compared with 2013
Top 10 markets (by % of 2014 sales)
9% United States
5% United Kingdom
21,144, million euros turnover (growth of 4.7%*)
53% of business done in emerging economies
2,662 million euros in current operating income (increase of 3.7%*)
1,401 million euros in free cash flow (excluding exceptional elements)
1.5 euros dividend per share (an increase of 3.5% over the dividend distributed in 2013
* Compared with 2013
A banking document
One of the recent developments in banking, both in Canada and elsewhere, is the growth of online banks. Unlike regular banks, which have large physical infrastructures, online banks require customers to perform almost all their banking by phone or over the internet. In return, they charge generally lower rates.
The following passage describes the use of one of these banks (Tangerine. Imagine that you work for a competing bank and that you have been tasked with reading the document and determining what services are provided. You will find below a set of questions that form a sort of checklist for this. Try to determine how many of the features on the checklist are provided by Tangerine. A translation is provided after the comprehension questions.
- Can bills be paid online?Answer
Yes: Payer vos factures.
- Can cheques be deposited online?Answer
Yes: Déposer un chèque avec Photochèque.
- Are email money transfers supported?Answer
Yes: Envoyer de l'argent par courriel.
- Can the password be changed online?Answer
Yes: Réinitialiser votre NIP. (NIP = Numéro d'identification personnel).
- Can a new account be opened online?Answer
Yes: Ouvrir de nouveaux Comptes.
- Can a mortgage be obtained online?Answer
Unclear: the site does say Accéder à nos outils hypothécaires, but it doesn't say if the whole process can be done online.Translation
Now you can Save Anywhere™ with your smartphone at tangerine.ca or through our mobile banking app. You can check your Account balances, review transactions, transfer funds, locate ABMs, pay bills, buy and sell Tangerine Investment Funds and get info on our Tangerine Cafés. You can even deposit a cheque with Cheque-In™.
Manage your Accounts
Check Account balances
Deposit a cheque with Cheque-InTM
Reset your PIN
Access our Refer a Friend program
Save with Small Sacrifices
Sign up for new Accounts
Buy \& sell Tangerine Investment Funds
Check our rates
Access our mortgage tools
Find an ABM
Get directions and hours for Tangerine Cafés
Receive Orange Alerts and view your Orange Snapshot
Follow us on Twitter®: @TangerineBank, @PeterAceto
An advertising text
Earlier in the course, we saw that advertising seeks to influence behaviour by affecting people's ideas or their emotions and leading them to act. The ultimate goal is to build customer allegiance. The following ad shows one way of attempting this.
Spend some time looking at the ad. (Source: the Définitions Marketing site, an illustrated marketing encyclopedia.) Try to understand which elements are designed to get people involved and acting, then answer the comprehension questions below. (A translation is provided below as well in case it's needed.)
- Does the contest have a timeline?Answer
Yes, voting must happen between March 1st and April 17th.
- What is the prize?Answer
The chosen project will appear in stores by May 1st.
- Is there a competitive element involved?Answer
There is a regional element: speculoos is associated with Belgium, buttered caramel with la Bretagne, and nougat with the south of France, so people might support their region.
- How might this ad affect attitudes?Answer
People feel they have a voice in how the product is developed.Translation
Danone and you
Danone lets you discover the Danette offer
Vote for the regional Danette
Vote for the next Danette
From March 1st to April 17th
Find the two Danette finalists in stores on May 2
Danette speculoos flavour
Danette salted caramel
Danette nougat and honey flavour
You should now feel more comfortable with the language of business in French. In particular, you should feel capable of picking up a business text and using the techniques we have learned to determine its basic structure and its gist.
That being said, remember that the materials we have just covered are just the beginning, for two reasons. First, it took you many years to master your first language. These twelve modules are only the beginning of exploring business language in French. Second, the study of business concepts and terminology is a science in itself. If you are lucky, you will already have a background in this area, and your work will consist mostly in understanding the particularities of how business is done in French. Otherwise, you will have to spend time learning more advanced business concepts in order to deal comfortably with more complex texts in business French. In both cases, though, the modules we have covered should give you a firm footing for further explorations. Apply these by going out and exploring written and oral texts in French. And have fun!