Interview with Philippe Guillemot, chief executive officer of Elior Group

Make Elior Group the catering industry's benchmark player

What was your assessment of the Group when you first arrived?

Philippe Guillemot

I joined a group that has a balanced business portfolio, is well positioned in its markets and has solid fundamentals. The client retention rate for contract catering & services is a very high 93% despite fierce competition and voluntary exits from certain contracts. There were several operational challenges in 2016- 2017, especially in the second half of the fiscal year, such as the extremely adverse calendar effect for contract catering and the fact that a considerable portion of the Group’s motorways contracts in France came up for renewal. We now need to put strict discipline measures in place for our resource allocation if we want to genuinely transform our group and achieve the growth we are aiming for.

Which countries are expected to play a key role in the Group’s growth?

The Group pursued its external growth strategy in the United States in 2016-2017 via numerous acquisitions, and the USA is now the Group’s second-largest revenue contributor, accounting for 19% of the consolidated total — behind France but ahead of other historic markets like Spain and Italy. We plan to put in place the structures, teams and systems we need to maintain our robust organic growth, for instance by concentrating on the main US airports as well as niche markets such as correctional facilities. In the UK, thanks to ongoing business development and a small acquisition in the education market, we are now the country’s fourth-largest contract caterer. And lastly, we entered the Indian market during the year by simultaneously acquiring two contract catering companies operating in the business & industry sector, creating a subsidiary that has propelled the Group straight into the ranks of India’s top three contract catering players.

Excluding acquisitions, what are the Group’s main capital expenditure projects?

Our Group-wide project to transform our technologies and upgrade our information systems involves a capital expenditure plan representing several tens of millions of euros over the period from 2016 through 2020. This project is essential for our longterm growth and its positive effects have yet to be fully felt. The corresponding operations budgets are gradually increasing and several different areas of our businesses will see the benefits, including customer relations, site management, financial and operational reporting, and IT and personal data security. Data analysis and digital technology will be key factors for improving our growth and efficiency going forward.

What are your priorities for 2017-2018?

Once I have been out to see our teams in action and meet our clients, by July I intend to announce our long-term goals for growth and financial performance. What will definitely be on the agenda will be transforming our business to make it even more focused, more guest- and client-centric and more operationally efficient, by putting in place long-lasting and carefully targeted projects. I firmly believe that our markets – including the most mature ones – offer many opportunities that can be tapped if we take the right approach to sharpening our competitive edge. I am counting on our ability to combine best-in-class service delivery with our well-proven entrepreneurial mindset to make Elior Group the catering industry’s benchmark player, with even stronger credentials than it has today.