US News Who is Véronique Penchienati, the boss of Danone International who must transform the French champion?

20:25  23 november  2020
20:25  23 november  2020 Source:   challenges.fr

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Danone S.A. is a French multinational food-products corporation based in Paris and founded in Barcelona, Spain. It is listed on Euronext Paris where it is a component of the CAC 40 stock market

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Véronique Penchienati. © JFA Véronique Penchienati. She appeared for the first time alongside Danone President Emmanuel Faber and, at the head of the group's international activities, must oversee the most important transformation ever experienced by this company.

This is one of the strengths of Emmanuel Faber, president of Danone , in this period of great turbulence for his company: his pool of "Danoners". It has in-house a number of high-level executives, efficient, dedicated, sharing the same values ​​and fully familiar with the workings and challenges of the consumer business.

After Cécile Cabanis, the former number two, who has just left the group , now is Véronique Penchienati who arrives on stage. Too bad for her, this is the worst time. The crisis has been severe for a few months for the French champion of dairy products, bottled water and nutrition . Company , which became a mission company in May, suffers from sluggish profitability and sometimes severe scars from the crisis. Faced with dubious analysts, the new International Director General (her territory covering all countries, France included, except North America), in a perfecto jacket and black boots, took place this Monday, November 23, the reorganization plan, alongside the big boss Faber and his counterparts in charge of finance (Juergen Esser) and production (Henri Bruxelles).

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10% of the French work force.

Couper in the subsidiaries

At 53 years old, Véronique Penchienati already has 20 years of experience at Danone, where she worked in all business lines (biscuits, dairy products, water and specialized nutrition), after spending eight years at Procter . A marketing expert, she oversees all of the group's markets except North America. "We are moving from an organization by product categories to an organization based on consumers!", Describes this former disciple of Franck Riboud. By simplifying the operation of this still not very centralized group, by eliminating the many local subsidiaries by brand, in favor of a single entity per country, and by reducing the number of its products (fewer formats, fewer flavors, etc. ) the Danone group promises serious savings and above all greater agility in the race for profits in bad weather. The French group is only aligning itself with the same measures already taken by most of its major international competitors such as the Swiss Nestlé and the Dutch Unilever.

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Among the many other points to be improved, the water division (Evian, Volvic, Badoit), which Véronique Penchienati headed five years ago, is in the eye of the storm . It is weighed down by the Covid, at a time when its very existence is increasingly contested. In 2020 no one dares to display themselves in open spaces with a plastic water bottle, even eco-friendly. "We are going to review all of our products and activities, in depth and without taboos," repeats Emmanuel Faber, who announces a plan of one billion euros of efficiency gains by 2023 .

Balancing act duo

Investors remain unmoved, deeming these measures very late and not forceful enough. A feeling the opposite of what employees perceive. For them it's the cold shower. Their company had promised them to become a haven of social happiness, transforming them all into shareholders of a firm of a new kind, with the discourse of NGOs. This ambition falters with the elimination of 1,500 to 2,000 jobs, including 400 to 500 in France, announced on Monday. Four headquarters of subsidiaries located in France, as well as the world headquarters on Boulevard Haussmann could be combined. Véronique Penchienati, the marketing expert, will start a marathon of meetings with her teams and elected staff. With Emmanuel Faber, in a duo of equilibrists fascinated by the social and captured by the gain, they will have to avoid that the double project is now taken for double talk.

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