Interview with Gilles Cojan, chairman of the board of directors of Elior Group

Pursue our international expansion and continue the transformation process

How would you sum up the Group’s performance in fiscal 2016-2017?

Gilles Cojan

FY 2016-2017 was a year that saw an acceleration in the growth momentum begun the previous fiscal year, with revenue climbing 8.9% and topping the €6 billion mark for the first time. International operations accounted for 56% of the total revenue figure and the United States became the Group’s second-largest revenue contributor. Overall, our business performance was very satisfactory, even though some divisions did not achieve the ambitious objectives they were set, which meant that we didn’t meet our target of significant growth in adjusted EPS. The main reasons for this were the combination of an unfavorable calendar effect for contract catering and a sharp increase in the costs incurred for the Group’s IT and digital transformation process.

How did the Group’s ownership structure change during the year?

The Group’s long-term shareholding has been consolidated and now represents over 44% of our capital with BIM (23.1%), Emesa (9.9%), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (6.5%) and the entry of Fonds Stratégique de Participations (5.0%).

Elior Group’s governance structure was changed during the summer. Why?

Yes, the Board of Directors decided to separate the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in order to comply with current best corporate governance practices. The Group’s ambitious business development plan means that the Chairman needs to devote a large amount of time to overseeing the Board and its committees, which is not compatible with also being the CEO of a world-leading player. The change will make the Group’s corporate governance more effective. We have now appointed a new Chief Executive Officer – Philippe Guillemot – whose managerial skills, in-depth experience and undisputed leadership qualities put him in excellent stead to pursue the Group’s international expansion drive and continue the transformation process we have already begun with the aim of delivering ever-more services and value added for our clients and guests, speeding up the introduction of digital solutions and strengthening the Group’s competitive edge.

How do you perceive Elior Group’s future?

We expect to see a further revenue rise in 2017-2018, with organic growth amounting to at least 3% and acquisition-led growth representing over 2%. We anticipate that adjusted EBITDA margin will remain stable based on a constant scope of consolidation and exchange rates and that adjusted earnings per share will increase slightly. The proportion of revenue contributed by international operations will continue to increase, especially in the United States, where our organic growth is currently the strongest. We will of course pursue our productivity drive and, as has been the case in recent years, we will pass on some of our efficiency gains to our clients. In addition, as a world leader in catering and related services it is our duty to lead the way. Corporate social responsibility now plays a key role in the success of companies and their teams and we are rising to this challenge, notably through the Positive Foodprint Plan – our CSR strategy which is aimed at leaving a positive foodprint by 2025. I have every confidence that our people will leverage this new strategic tool in order to ensure the Group’s sustainable development.