Saint-Gobain : from factory to distribution

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Pierre-André de CHALENDAR

Acting managing director, Saint-Gobain Company

Seminar Business life | Friday October 6, 2006 - 9h30 - 12h

How does a company which has very strong manufacturing roots manage to become the European leader in the distribution of construction materials ? In many respects the example of the Saint-Gobain Company is unique. In scarcely ten years, having successively bought companies which have been carefully integrated into its group, Saint-Gobain has built up a European distribution centre which today generates nearly 40 % of its turnover. In the company there are jobs ranging from researcher and leading technician to supermarket cashier which exist side by side, as do the production line and mass consumption marketing. How does Saint-Gobain manage to achieve and successfully maintain compatibility between the two extremes of its activities, knowing that in its shops the proportion of materials manufactured in the production process only accounts for 10 % of sales ? Today, this alternative to the model of vertical integration leaves management gurus sceptical. All the same, it seems to have succeeded beyond all expectations.

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This session was published in issue n°64 of the Journal de l'École de Paris du management, entitled La rencontre des cultures.

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