CHEMISERIE PALACIO

"Byttebier A.& Zonen" was one of the competitors of Byvoet. They were producing for big distribution companies, for the army and with their own brands also for little shops and market place merchandisers. I proposed them to start our own boutiek brand for men shirts. The company was owned by Armand Byttebier and his son Jan. Jan was the commercial man and he accepted my proposal. We started a brand called "Charlie Parker". I was self-employed and the begin years were hard. I had to spend 6 months in order to collect orders and wait for the money until the clients paid. I had an extra part time job to survive but we get through the begin years and life improved. At a certain moment I sold 18.000 shirts in 6 months. For Belgium, that was a success! This is the moment where I came for the first time in contact with the production of men shirts. One of the most important aspects of the shirt was the look of it. How it was packet and stitched. And I analysed the shirts of the concurrent, to find out where they were different. The kind lady who was chief of production in that factory, Lydie, didn't liked my remarks in the beginning but accepted gradually when the commercial success followed.


The fantastic ... Anne Hermans

But… selling shirts for me was like selling tickets for a holiday trip to the moon. Selling was the easy part, but organizing the trip proved a bit more difficult. Byttebier started producing in Casablanca Morocco and these Moroccans, they fried it brown (Flemish expression sorry) when it came to the point of delivery time.
The name of the company in Casablanca was Palacio. The boss there was a Belgian who had an administrative job only. He wasn't really interested in shirt technique but proved also to be weak in organisation. The production was always delayed. During a visit of me in the factory I saw that the fabric literally pilled out of it. Even in the corridor to the office of the boss were fabrics stored.
Jan Byttebier and I took a radical decision that should put my life in a definitive direction. I should give up selling shirts and was asked to live in Casablanca to become the new director of Palacio.
Like before when I had to sell shirts in a language that I barely spoke, this was also a formidable challenge for me. The company was in full production and I was a rookie in both the shirt confection and as a boss of 250 peoples. There was a lot of stress in these days. But live was fantastic, because Jan and I were a successful team. He sold so many shirts at a certain moment that beside the 2000 shirts we made in Palacio we produced at the peak an other 2000 shirts outdoor with sub contractors all over Casablanca. I managed the main company and the various subs all on my own. Although at a later stage I instructed a girl named Hafida, who became my assistant in controlling the sub contractors. My work was mainly technical. For the production administration I had the fantastic Anne Hermans. She was my partner in live and although from a Belgian pharmaceutical company coming, immediately performing well in this new (rather different) context.

Palacio

One day Jan ringed me and asked "Guy, can you produce an extra 20.000 peaces this month ?" and quickly following with "Hey, you don't need to think too long because I sold them already, so you have to produce them anyway." It was the period of the flower printed shirts in Europe, had it been dress shirts, it would have been impossible.
Byttebier was associated 50/50 with a Moroccan called Fta Tasi. This man was a colourful figure in the Casablanca jet set in the mid nineties. He undertook regularly trips to the French Riviera to play in the casinos in Monaco. Also Marrakech has some super casino where mister Tasi was a well-known guest in these days. Live in his shirt factory was due to his royal live stile a bit less glamorous. The team in Palacio was turning at crushing speed in the meanwhile. My friend Said Lozi had joint and also Hassan Moufdi. These two guys I have taken with me to Romania and we became good friends.
Top Man Just around the corner (see the palm three) of Palacio.
more pictures of Palacio