More than 120 years since it was founded, your company has decided to move into new markets. Why has it made this choice?
Jacques Frénéhard: Since it was founded, the company has developed its presence in the area of roofing accessories. While remaining in the roofing market, we have diversified by offering protective products such as suspended scaffolding and guardrails. Around 10 years ago, we saw that there was a shift of the French housing market towards smaller houses and that all sloped roofs were gradually disappearing in favour of flat roofs. Ultimately, this could pose a risk to the company's future. And so we made the decision to move our centre of gravity towards growth markets, in particular protection against falls from height.
And that's why you bought Tubesca-Comabi?
J.F.: Yes. In 2016 we had the opportunity to buy the French arm of the German group Zarges-Tubesca. This acquisition presented a number of advantages.
Thanks to their skills and products, particularly in height access solutions, these companies consolidated our new positioning: height with confidence. With an innovative approach, we are now able to offer secure access and working conditions for anyone working high up, whether supermarket employees stacking shelves or the artisan renovating the spire of Rouen cathedral 132 metres up. We now have clients in construction, manufacturing and even public services such as firefighters.
This acquisition has also enabled us to develop from an SME into a medium-sized business with 10 plants, nine of which are in France. We are proud of our status as a French medium-sized business as we firmly believe that this is one of the keys to creating jobs in France.
The acquisition offered one more advantage: it has allowed us to enhance our management team.
And this couldn't be done without the support of investors?
J.F.: Indeed. Even though the acquisition concerned only half of the Zarges-Tubesca group's operations, the companies involved represented revenues of €95 million, at a time when Frénéhard & Michaux was generating revenues of €55 million. We therefore started to look for partners, with two main requirements: being able to work with us over the long term and agreeing to maintain a minority position.
Crédit Mutuel Equity (formerly CM-CIC Investissement) corresponded perfectly to what we were looking for.
How did the integration go ahead?
J.F.: For me, there could only be one operational head of the enlarged group. And this could only be the former Chairman of Tubesca-Comabi France: Bernard Rothan. He now heads up the new executive committee grouping together the executive directors of Frénéhard & Michaux and Tubesca-Comabi. Most of them also acquired a stake in the company during the acquisition.
What are your main development focuses at present?
J.F.: Without abandoning our historic business line of "Roofs and Fixings", we are hoping to roll out our new "Height with Confidence" strategy, a registered trademark. We are currently the only ones to offer this positioning. This will be achieved by means of commercial partnerships as well as acquisitions in France and abroad. We hope that we will soon be able to generate more than 35% of our revenues outside France.
- €160 m