There are big bosses who are smiling. Pierre-André de Chalendar, the CEO of Saint-Gobain is one of them, even if, he says, “ we must remain humble in the face of companies that are suffering “. According to him, ” the group’s growth profile is higher than it was before the health crisis ”.
A restart of activity since last summer
In 2020, Saint-Gobain admittedly recorded a turnover of 38.1 billion euros, down 3.8% on a like-for-like basis (taking into account disposals and acquisitions), but it recorded a sharp rebound in the last six months, with an increase in activity of 4.8%. In the last quarter, growth was even 6.4%.
Clearly, the group, which published its accounts on Thursday, February 25, has almost erased the difficulties of the first part of the year, when the world has almost stopped for several weeks.
« The results are excellent, explain to The cross Pierre-André de Chalendar. The second half of the year was record on many points, notably with a margin of 10%, which is the best of the last twenty years and a net current result at a historic level, at 1.2 billion euros ”.
The months of January and February are on the same trend. ” Today the main subject is to follow the demand and our stocks are low all over », Underlines the boss of Saint-Gobain.
Green recovery plans
Undeniably, the world champion of construction materials is one of the big winners of this crisis. First of all, there is a cyclical dimension. “ Containment has caused people all over the world to spend more time at home and doing jobs », Explains Pierre-André de Chalendar.
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But Saint-Gobain is also fortunate to benefit from buoyant winds for quite a while, especially with everything that revolves around energy renovation. ” Everything related to the ecological transition is accelerating and the recovery plans are all green. With this pandemic, there is a general awareness that the issues of health, the environment and saving the planet are linked », Underlines the CEO.
Investors adhere to this discourse and the group has regained its colors on the stock market, after having lagged behind for a long time. Over one year, the share has risen by nearly 25%, or as much as over the past five years.
At the forefront of innovation
Pierre-André de Chalendar also has other reasons for satisfaction. Saint-Gobain has once again been recognized among the 100 most innovative companies in the world, according to “ Clarivate Top 100 Global Innovator ”, Established in particular according to the number of patents filed, their quality and the impact they may have on their sector.
« It’s a source of pride, says CEO. Because of these 100 companies, 29 have been classified for ten years and, among them, Saint-Gobain is the only French company and one of the three Europeans – which is not necessarily good news ”.
Last year, the group spent € 428 million on R&D in 2020, with more than 400 patents.
Transfer of powers
Finally, it is a change in the continuity that was expected, even if it arrives a little earlier than expected. Pierre-André de Chalendar, whose term as CEO runs until 2022, will cede his position as CEO to Benoît Bazin, the current number two, on July 1, at the age of 63. The group’s board of directors has approved the separation of the functions of chairman and chief executive officer.
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This is not a first. This had already been the case in 2007, to gently prepare the succession of the then CEO, Jean-Louis Beffa. Pierre-André de Chalendar was then appointed Managing Director for three years. ” We have emerged from the crisis and we have ticked all the boxes in our transformation plan. We must now take a new step “, Says the one who will no longer be” only “the chairman of the board this summer.
Aged 52, Benoît Bazin (X-Ponts) has spent most of his career in the group, which he joined in 1999, with a career quite similar to that of the current CEO. First of all planning director, then head of the various Saint-Gobain divisions, in France and internationally. He was also financial director for a few years.