Interview with Pierre Boulet
Président and CEO @Novares
Pierre Boulet joined Arts et Métiers ParisTech in 1978 and is now President and CEO of Novares. He has been CEO since 2012 in Mécaplast (now known as Novares).
1/ To begin with, let’s talk about your initial training. You are an engineer from the Arts et Métiers School. Can you tell us about this training and the course you followed afterwards?
The main assets of the A&M Engineer training:
On the pedagogical level: its generalist side.
This makes it easier and humbler to distinguish what we know from what we don’t know, and consequently to make fewer mistakes, or to progress more quickly towards practical solutions.
On the human level: its Humanist side.
Extra-curricular activities, learning through teamwork and enrichment allow students to access the functions of Manager or Project Manager more quickly and successfully.
2/ As General Manager, you are now driving Novares – resulting from the merger of Mécaplast and Key Plastics two years ago – an important player in the automotive industry as a plastic injection specialist. From your point of view, what dynamics does the automotive industry take with the advent of the industry 4.0?
We also acquired another American company: MPC. In the end, while maintaining its “Metal To Plastic” DNA, in 7 years, Mécaplast has become Novares, and today has 12,000 employees in more than 20 countries, speaking 15 languages and generating €1.5 billion in revenue, with a single business: the design and supply of innovative plastic components and solutions for the automotive industry. The automotive sector is at the dawn of very structuring transformations, bringing considerable opportunities:
- Motorisation is being diversified, generating many projects in the fields of adaptation to regulations, electrification and the implementation of new energies,
- The interaction between occupants (and no longer just the driver) is undergoing the same shift that we have seen between mobile phones and smart phones,
- Connectivity is now a prerequisite for new vehicles, allowing the explosion of Driving Assistance applications, and many new applications and services.
In 7 years, Mécaplast has become Novares, and now has 12,000 employees in more than 20 countries
3/ Within Novares, how is this revolution in the industry 4.0 materializing, and how do you position yourself in relation to this dynamic? What are Novares’ ambitions?
We have chosen to reduce our sensitivity to the hazards of the sector by diversifying our panels:
- Customers: We supply all major customers worldwide, except Hyundai, which allows us to be present on more than 400 vehicle models, and thus reduce our dependence on a few of them.
- Geography: We are present in more than 20 countries, in order to associate local development as close as possible to our customers’ Study Centres and global supplies on all our customers’ production sites.
- Products: A single DNA: Metal to Plastic for the automotive industry.
Significant Investment in Innovation (Skill Centers, Tec Centers, Novacar, Novares Venture Capital etc.).
We have a strategy of organic growth, but also external growth, which has enabled our Group to increase its turnover from €660 million in 2012 to €1.5 billion in 2019.
At the same time, our EBITDA(Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) will have increased from 2.7% to more than 9%.
Our ambition is to reach the €2 billion mark in 2020, while maintaining the same level of margin.
4/ As you know, the 2019 Congress of Arts et Métiers will be held in China, in Shanghai. Today, Novares employs 12,000 people in more than 20 countries including China – a market where the company is growing rapidly. What does China and more particularly the Chinese market mean to you?
We have 7 factories in China, out of a total of 47, and nearly 2,000 employees out of a total of 12,000. We have been present there since 1998, and we have just bought out the shares of Chinese minority shareholders, allowing us to now hold 100% of all our operations in China.
This last result will have taken us nearly 3 years to achieve.
The Chinese automotive market is unavoidable because of its size, but it is very specific because of the diversity of applicable rules and the central control it undergoes.
We will continue to develop there, as soon as the fabric of equipment manufacturers and carmakers has been cleaned up.
Ce Congrès constitue pour nous l’occasion de faire la démonstration [de notre savoir faire], et ainsi d’augmenter encore notre attractivité aux Talents et Compétences
5/ For the first time internationally, the Congress of Arts and Crafts will explore the challenges and opportunities related to the industry 4.0 that we have already begun to address. Novares has positioned itself as a sponsor of the event, so what will Novares’ expectations be for this Congress?
Novares has developed a real know-how in terms of industrial organization, organizations and resources. This Congress is an opportunity for us to demonstrate this, and thus to further increase our attractiveness to Talent and Skills.
6/ Thank you for these answers, Mr. Boulet, any last words to add?
The automotive industry is at the dawn of a technological and collective shift like that of the Smartphone, generating a considerable number of opportunities and investments in products and services for the coming decades. I invite all passionate and ambitious people to come aboard.