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

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

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 boating industry and his experience of more than 30 years, notably at the head of his private equity company and on the boards of many companies, allows him to bring a strategic vision.

Does this reorganisation follow the change in the status of the Bénéteau group 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 keeping the same philosophy by separating the presidency with its strategic role taken by Jérôme de Metz and the operational general management. We have not changed our philosophy, but the context and personality of Jérôme de Metz convinced the Board of Directors that he was able to assume both roles. This is not a transitional appointment, but a position with a roadmap.

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

Gianguido Girotti: We will work more per project, in a more transversal way. We are aiming for a "house of brands" as the Volkswagen group says. Each brand must develop its identity while respecting a more shared plan for the good of the group. We now have a product plan of 200 models all confused. We need more clarity about the identity of each brand to avoid losing markets or eating them between us.

Will there be a dedicated team within the Bénéteau group?

Gianguido Girotti: It is too early to give an organizational chart. We will have the advice of Dieter Gust and Jean-Paul Chapeleau who are no longer being presented (Editor's note: respectively president of CNB and CEO of Jeanneau Prestige). We will create a marketing centre in the broad 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 brands I know less about. I can only say that in the 4 years since I arrived at Bénéteau, starting with sailing and then with the engine, we have changed the identity quite a bit. By redesigning Oceanis' image, we were 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 performance sailing image 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 region.

Will there be the recruitment of a replacement at the head of the Bénéteau brand?

Gianguido Girotti: There are already good sail and engine coordinators for several years. We have a lot of talents and we have to put them back at 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 general manager.

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