On the second floor of Valeo's small headquarters, which rules over 115,000 employees and 150 factories since 17e district of Paris, they can be counted on the fingers of one hand: around the CEO, Jacques Aschenbroich, the directors of operations, finance, legal and the director of communication. “It's easier for coordination, but rest assured, we are at a good distance”, points out on the phone the boss, who has just joined the “task-force” piloted by Air Liquide, to manufacture 50,000 breathing apparatus in six weeks: “We have made Valeo teams available to go and find suppliers, and speed up production at the Air Liquide factory in Antony, because we are a mass producer.” In all, 60 people from Valeo are on deck for this one-off, totally unusual operation.
© All Rights ReservedCoronavirus: faced with a high demand for respirators, the industry is organizing
Because for the heart of his trade, Jacques Aschenbroich cannot get over the situation of the automobile industry on the planet: “Of the 355 factories of our manufacturing customers outside of China, Japan and Korea, only Twelve continue to run! And conversely, China left at 25% of its capacity in April, 50% in May, and promises 90% for the summer… “
Armed with this observation, Jacques Aschenbroich put forward two absolute priorities for these troubled times, in his message to the troops at the end of March: “The health of the collaborators and the continuity of operations. And on these two fronts, we learned a lot from China , where our 34 factories left, including those around Wuhan. In fact, the containment there lasted exactly two months. “
50 pages of procedures
The situation is obviously not the same in Europe, where only 22 Valeo units (out of 67) were operating at the end of March. “But we are working with the unions to be able to restart in conditions of absolute protection for employees: wearing of mandatory masks (Valeo had such reservations that a donation of 30,000 pieces was made to hospitals); disinfection of workstations of work after each team; non-crossing of teams … “In all, 50 pages of procedures have been listed and discussed with the European and group committees.
This dual priority made the arrival on the Valeo board of directors of the Strategic Equity Fund (FSP), announced on March 25, a secondary event. Because unlike the title of the FSP, it is not a public fund flying to the aid of vacant heavy vehicles, but the fund of insurers investing in big names in the industry (Safran, Arkema, Seb, Eutelsat …). For Valeo, more than 4% is now in the hands of the FSP: “We are delighted to welcome them, because they are long-term investors”, specifies Jacques Aschenbroich, who can only note that this rise to capital was made at low cost, taking into account the tumble of the title. “We are in the peloton”, seeks to reassure the boss, who notes having returned to the level of… 2013. “And yet Valeo is so much more solid and international: 520 million euros in cash flow and 1, 3 billion lines of credit; and our sales depend for less than half on Europe, when they then represented three-quarters of our turnover. ” Above all, the very big effort made in R&D, sanctioned by financial analysts, should finally pay off. The proof? In factories that have never been shut down in Europe, there are those of Etaples and Sablé-sur-Sarthe, where the little wonder of the 48-volt motor is produced, and the German sites, where the cameras were invented. frontal. The promise of billions of euros in orders… when customer chains leave.