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To mark Industry Week in France, we meet Richard Lelièvre, who joined Groupe SEB in April 2023 as EVP Industry.

When he began his career, he naturally turned to the industry. Everything pointed in that direction. First of all, his training: Engineer in industrial “Arts et Métiers”. His engineering specialty was "automation and electronics, in other words, robotization". Then there's his background. A first experience in China in industrial and Supply Chain functions, then a return to Europe. A long career followed, during which he held positions as Industrial Director and General Manager Activities, which took him to France and the United States. In 2016, Richard Lelièvre joined the Bostik Group, specialized in adhesives and better known to the public for its brands such as Sader, Quelid, Mem and Den Braven. 

portrait Richard

A strong commitment to industry

At this point, a little something in his career was already bringing him closer to Groupe SEB. At the time, Bostik - which, coincidentally, had customers in the consumer durables sector - was experiencing strong growth, notably through acquisitions. This dynamism had to be managed when you were Managing Director of one of the company's four divisions, and at the same time in charge of operations for some thirty plants around the world. This experience will soon come in very handy elsewhere. His taste "for beautiful industrial machinery" and for "iconic brands known the world over" convinced him: when Groupe SEB knocked on his door, he didn't hesitate at all. Between the desire for a major new challenge, and the desire to immerse himself in an even more international culture, entirely focused on innovation and passion... this collaboration was an obvious choice. 

Its mission? Very cross-functional

His first few months with the Group have strengthened his conviction that he is part of the SEB adventure to take the company in the right direction, precisely where it is needed, in terms of industrial operations and Supply Chain. In concrete terms, "my scope includes all Purchasing (direct and indirect), industrial operations - both factories and subcontractors - but also Supply Chain, Quality, Health & Safety, and industrial efficiency". In short, the heart of the company, and a very diverse and necessarily demanding job, requiring constant juggling "between short- and long-term imperatives, between figures and the field".

A daily life in the field

In reality, Richard is rarely in his office, and very often out meeting his teams, experts, specialists and operators too. "It's a cross-functional job where you have to be demanding, delegate and trust people," he likes to remind us. It's also a job that involves a lot of travel, if only to take stock of the situation - the first step on his roadmap. "In six months, I must have visited 70% of the sites. I've already been to China twice, Vietnam once, Germany three times, and next week I'm off to Brazil and Colombia". After all, his job is indeed to ensure that the Group's standards and strategy are applied everywhere.

After this phase of meetings and observations, but also of reflection, the time will come, in 2024, for the new ambition, which will bear his and his teams' stamp, "to reorient the course and the strategy", and to ensure that the Group remains extremely agile and competitive. "We have a number of important assets to bring to the table, not just our brands, our products or our history, but also our industrial footprint, with 41 sites and a presence on five continents, giving us local roots, unique flexibility and a high level of responsiveness, which is very welcome in times of crisis". Not forgetting another major advantage, sometimes overlooked: "We outsource only around 30% of our production, the remaining 70% being entirely manufactured in our factories, a level that has no equivalent in our sector". 

This low level of outsourcing gives us greater control over the Supply Chain and puts us in a better position to meet our other major challenges of recyclability and CSR in the years ahead. "With COP28 just around the corner, it's imperative for us to remain competitive and meet our decarbonization commitments for 2030 and 2050, which we'll be announcing in the coming months".

Assignments where expectations are very high, and which keep him on his toes during the day. Then, in the evening, it's time to take a breather. When he returns home, Richard Lelièvre is happy to be reunited with his family. But that doesn't mean he's finished with Groupe SEB. On the kitchen table, there's often a Cocotte-Minute®, or even a Cookeo... which he and his family are particularly fond of!