Interview / "Each brand of the Bénéteau Group must develop its own identity"

Gianguido Girotti, now in charge of the Bénéteau Group's Boat product strategy

The Bénéteau Group's new Director of Product Strategy, Gianguido Girotti and the Director of Communications Mirna Cieniewicz say more about the new organisation after Jérôme de Metz took over the general management of the French leader in yachting.

After the announcement of the reorganisation of the Bénéteau Group's management team BoatIndustry wanted to know more. Gianguido Girotti and Mirna Cieniewicz, respectively Director of Product Strategy of the Bénéteau Group's Boat Division and Director of Communications, answered our questions.

Your press release mentions the objective of "uniting the group's teams, brands, design offices and factories around a common project". How does this translate into practice?

Mirna Cieniewicz: This is precisely the role of Jérôme de Metz (Editor's note: the new CEO of the Bénéteau Group) and his roadmap. He does not come from the yachting industry and his experience of more than 30 years, notably at the head of his private equity firm and on the boards of numerous companies, enables him to bring a strategic vision.

Does this reorganisation follow the Bénéteau Group's change in status from a company with a supervisory board to a public limited company with a board of directors in February 2019?

Mirna Cieniewicz: In February, we explained that we were maintaining the same philosophy by separating the presidency with its strategic role taken by Jérôme de Metz and the operational general management. We did not change our philosophy, but the context and personality of Jérôme de Metz convinced the Board of Directors that he was capable of taking on both roles. This is not a transitional appointment, but a position with a roadmap.

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What is the objective of the new position of Director of Product Strategy for the Bénéteau Group's Boat Division?

Gianguido Girotti: We're going to work more by project, in a more transversal way. We're aiming for a "house of brands", as the Volkswagen group puts it. Each brand must develop its identity while respecting a more shared plan for the good of the group. Today we have a product plan with 200 models all together. We need greater clarity in terms of the identity of each brand to avoid losing markets or eating them up among ourselves.

Will there be a dedicated team within the Bénéteau Group?

Gianguido Girotti: It's too early to give a flowchart. We will have the board of Dieter Gust and Jean-Paul Chapeleau, which we will no longer present (Editor's note: respectively President of CNB and CEO of Jeanneau Prestige). We are going to create a marketing centre in the broadest sense to analyse market figures and needs, before each brand can work.

You talk about strengthening the identity of each brand, how would you characterize them in a word?

Gianguido Girotti: I think it's a little early for me to talk about the brands I know less about. I can only say that in the 4 years that I've been with Bénéteau, starting with the sail and then with the engine, we've changed our identity quite a bit. By reworking Oceanis' image, we've been able to regain market share in sailing compared to 2015. And I can say thank you to Hervé Gastinel and Annette Roux for allowing me to work on the image of performance sailing by relaunching the First range.

What about the Groupe Bénéteau brand?

Mirna Cieniewicz: It is truly a corporate brand, with a financial vocation for shareholders who wish to invest, as an employer and for local actions and CSR initiatives in the territory.

Is there going to be the recruitment of a replacement at the head of the Bénéteau brand?

Gianguido Girotti: There have already been good sail and motor coordinators for several years. We have a lot of talent and we need to put them back in the centre of the action, not hide them. Instead, there will be an internal evolution and a readjustment of the way things work. Luca Brancaleon, who was co-director with me, remains managing director.

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