How was the Lorillard Group developed?
Thierry Luce: The company was founded in 1936 by André Lorillard, a joiner by trade who - like many of his counterparts at the time - gradually went on the specialise in manufacturing windows and doors. Although wood has always remained its historic area of expertise, the company saw very strong growth in the 1970s, being one of the first to begin to produce PVC joinery under the aegis of the founder's son Jean Lorillard.
A few years later, the group also began to produce aluminium joinery. Even today, we are one of the few companies in the market to offer wood, PVC and aluminium. In 2007, the company - which generated most of its revenues in the Paris region - adopted a strategy of carrying out acquisitions in order to strengthen its production capacity and expertise, as well as to extend its geographical coverage. In our markets, particularly PVC, it is essential for production plants to be close to distribution zones in order to remain competitive. Our five production plants currently allow us to cover the entire country.
In addition to this intense manufacturing activity, you also have a very strong presence in the installation market.
T.L.: Yes, and this is one of the unique things about the Lorillard Group. We currently generate around 60% of our revenues in supply and installation projects via our network of 70 Lorenove concession holders (retail market) and our Lorillard Entreprise brand (supply and installation for social housing construction projects and private contractors). Thanks to our Bourgneuf brand acquired in 2016, we are also present in the very high-end joinery market. We are therefore very proud to have renovated the windows and doors at Hotel Crillon and Hotel Ritz in Paris, as well as the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London.
To top off this multi-brand/multi-market strategy, we should also mention Lorebat (sales to trade and general contractors) and Molenat (sale to materials wholesale networks).
What are the main challenges currently facing the Lorillard Group?
T.L.: In terms of development, we want to strengthen our commercial presence in western and eastern France and step up the growth of our network of Lorenove concession holders with a target of 120 sales outlets.
In terms of production, we are planning major investment to automate our production processes. We need to remain competitive in order to compete with Eastern Europe, as well as to address our growing difficulty in finding qualified workers.
Is increasing the number of employee shareholders part of this recruitment drive?
T.L.: To begin with, this is about expressing the values of the company which - although it is now a medium-sized business - remains a family-owned business. In 2007, when Jean Lorillard retired, he chose to offer up part of the company's share capital to employees. At present, 25% of share capital is owned by an employee association. But it is true that this is an additional way of recruiting young talent.
What role does Crédit Mutuel Equity play?
T.L.: Crédit Mutuel Equity became a shareholder in 2015 to replace investors that completed the round table in 2007. It is not a "purely financial" partner. It plays the role of a real shareholder, concerned about the group's long-term development, which allows us to work on ambitious investment plans. Our contacts, who are involved in the strategy committee, provide sound advice about acquisitions, which in recent years have truly transformed the group.
joinery units produced