Dusting off a favorite brand of the French, developing stores even internationally, reaching two billion in sales by 2026, while navigating the inflationary context: the challenges are numerous for Cathy Collart Geiger, CEO of the firm.
He assumed the management of the company in June 2020, full covid-19 epidemic. The 51-year-old northerner, who has spent much of her career with auchanhad the mission of “accelerating the development” of Picard, a few months after the arrival in the capital of the ambitious Zouari family group, which became the second shareholder behind the British fund Lion Capital LLP
Owned by Carrefour between 1994 and 2001, the brand founded in 1973 by Armand Decelle on the basis of an ice block sales company passed successively into the hands of three investment funds, Candover in 2001, BC Partners in 2004, then Lion Capital which he bought in 2010 for 1.5 billion euros.
On each occasion, the takeover bids were carried out by means of indebtedness -in English LBO for “leveraged buy out”-, operations that weigh the weight of the takeover bid on the future income of the company. Hurting other retail brands, such as former French flagship Vivarte, these LBOs apparently didn’t hurt Picard, regularly ranked among the French’s favorite brands.
Its last financial year, moved to 2020-21, was exceptional with a turnover of €1.7 billion for a net profit of €152.6 million. Previously it had generated, during the previous two years, a profit of more than 100 million euros, for sales that oscillated around one thousand five hundred million euros. A good return for the brand whose bestseller is a vegetable: it is proud to sell 16 tons of green beans a day.
But the brand’s shareholders, present in 15 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, expect even better. At the end of 2020, Cathy Collart Geiger presented a strategic plan aimed at 200 store openings for 2026 -40 are planned for 2022-, using in particular the franchise. Objective: that the maximum number of French is a quarter of an hour from a Picard, 1,050 stores today.
In terms of turnover, the target of some 5,000 employees has been set at 2 billion euros, even above the excellent performance of the frozen food sector during the Covid-19 epidemic.
Chill out on the shelves
Since then, panelist Kantar has noted that the “extreme cold” section it was one of those that “reduced the most at the beginning of the year”, with fruits and vegetables or butchery. The descent is “even more marked in the specialized circuits”, specifies in a message the specialist of the Kantar sector, Sonia Da Silva. This translates into “fewer shoppers, who shop less frequently and make smaller baskets.”
At Picard, Cathy Collart Geiger recently explained to the press that if “January, February and March were very good months attracting many clients”, often younger than the traditional target, “April and May were more complicated, especially in reading because of a difficult history to compare.
The sign, of course, is not saved from inflationhe added, referring to a likely +4% price increase at the end of May.
Picard does not manufacture any of the products it sells, but it is at the origin of the recipes that will later be cooked by agribusiness partners. Therefore, the group adapts them “to reduce the impact of inflation on consumers,” explained the leader. Therefore, the foie gras filling in poultry has been replaced by fruit or mushrooms.
Finally, Picard intends to address purchasing power concerns with a loyalty program, unveiled at the end of May. It provides immediate discounts on a selection of products, as well as a “new points counter system”.