Group Chairman & CEO Thierry de La Tour d’Artaise reveals his organisation’s keys to success
SEB group goes from strength to strength in the field of small appliances, through both acquisitions and organic growth. With net results up by over 33% in the first half of the group’s financial year, one might ask, “just how far can it all go?” Group Chairman and CEO, Thierry de La Tour d’Artaise, talks to IFA International about his organisation’s perspectives for the future.
Firstly, in 2016 we reached the five-billion-euro figure for the first time, and that was before the acquisition of WMF in Germany. Our business has been growing organically, primarily through product innovation. All the countries in which we are present have been growing, and all our product lines have been growing too, meaning we have had a good product flow in all categories. China has grown more than 15%. This is our number one market, with almost EUR1.2bn in sales, primarily through the local brand Supor. On top of that, 2016 has been the year of the acquisition of the 2 German companies, EMSA and WMF, although WMF is no included in the figures mentionned earlier as the signing only took place at the end of november.
What do the acquisitions of WMF and EMSA change for the group?
Let me explain the logic of these acquisitions. We decided, about three years ago, to strongly develop our position in the kitchen tools market, including conservation boxes, thermal mugs and so on. This is a big market and we were virtually not present there. So we began developing our own product lines, and looked at possible acquisitions to speed up our growth. EMSA was number one, because it’s a leader in the field in Germanspeaking countries (DACH).
THE GROUP, IN ITS NEW PERIMETER, COULD WELL SEE TURNOVER IN THE AREA OF EUR 6.5BN THIS YEAR
We were interested not only in the company’s position, but primarily in the competencies it has in these product categories. From now on, EMSA, within the group, is responsible for developing products in these categories for the whole group – for all companies and brands. It’s a small acquisition, but with huge potential and strategic importance. The big one is of course WMF in Germany. That is a different story. The reasoning behind this acquisition was that we wanted to become the market leader in cookware in Germany. Germany is mostly a market of pots made of stainless steel – as opposed to France which is a market of pans- and led by German players. The acquisition of WMF gives us the leadership position in this market. It also reinforces our kitchen tool business, as they have knives and a lot of gadgets that will be highly complementary to our other lines. It’s also just a magnificent brand. To us, WMF is the most beautiful brand you can dream of in the DACH market.
Does this new “weight” or “size” give you new advantages in the marketplace?
Indeed. The group, in its new perimeter, could well see turnover in the area of EUR 6.5bn this year, which is a real swing; a real increase in our size, and so that gives us of course economies of scale. on purchasing, manufacturing, operations (by better utilising our factories) and overheads. However, most of the synergies we envisage will be on the revenue side, especially by growing the WMF brand in many more markets than it is today, as it is still very much focused on Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and we are convinced there is a huge possibility in other countries. At the same time in Germany and the DACH countries, WMF can certainly carry a much wider assortment, both in cookware and SDA, and our teams, who are developing all these product categories, definitely can help WMF do it. As you can see, it is a fantastic project and we are all thrilled about it. I am already very happy to see that the cooperation between the teams is excellent and it is certainly coming from the fact that we are all sharing the same values, a culture of passion for our brands and products. The good start of 2017 is another reason to be optimistic.
Photo: Thierry de La Tour d’Artaise, Group Chairman and CEO, SEB Group