The revival of the Chantiers de l'Atlantique

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Jean-Noël d' ACREMONT

Former Chairman and managing director of the Chantiers de l'Atlantique ; President of the Saint-Nazaire Chamber of Commerce

Seminar Entrepreneurs, towns and regions | Wednesday December 5, 2001

In the 1970's, the Chantiers de l'Atlantique were carried along, as were others, by the strong demand for oil and LPG tankers. Then the slowdown following the oil crisis caused by the Yom Kippur War gave rise to a serious situation. The Chantiers de l'Atlantique took a daring gamble in the 1980's by venturing into the construction of cruise liners. The market was very competitive, the deadlines were very short and inflexible since liners were ordered and sold a long time in advance. How was this compatible with a trade union tradition which made respecting deadlines improbable and created an obstacle to the necessary adjustments of the company ? How could one obtain the necessary State aid, notably after the political change in power in 1981, in order to "subsidise the American millionaires", as they were called ? By developing stimulating management techniques in the face of a crisis and involving themselves in the life of the city, the Chantiers de l'Atlantique managed to be the only important French naval construction site which survived the storm.

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This session was published in issue n°34 of the Journal de l'École de Paris du management, entitled La négociation sociale.

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