Distribution Performance department, 2 years later: the results

12/07/2020

Patrice Richard, President of Saint-Gobain Distribution Batiment France & Director of Performance Distribution, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Performance Distribution Department, participated in a cross-interview with David Molho, CEO of Saint-Gobain Nordics and Baltics. An exchange of points of view which made it possible to draw up an initial assessment and to open perspectives.

What were the challenges for the Distribution Performance Department when it was created? 

"To improve sharing of best practices and to help define better strategies, with an increase in competitive intelligence and market trends"

Patrice Richard: The Distribution Performance Department was created during the implementation of the Transform&Grow program, which prioritizes the geographic organization of Saint-Gobain's businesses. The roadmap had two key points: to improve sharing of best practices and to help define better strategies, with an increase in competitive intelligence and market trends.

What does the Distribution Performance Department bring to the market and the Saint-Gobain group? 

Patrice Richard: We provide our customers with the best that distribution has to offer in the world: excellent logistics often inspired by the brands Dahl (Sweden) and Optimera (Norway), powerful digital tools and the use of data. The Saint-Gobain group is more confident in the way it approaches the digital world.

"Distribution will be one of the group's driving forces in terms of sustainable development"

David Molho: The distribution activity "pulls" the whole Saint-Gobain group on many subjects: not only logistics & digital as Patrice has just mentioned, but also prefabrication. Moreover, it will be one of the group's driving forces in terms of sustainable development, particularly in transport and life cycle analyses. Our employees are in daily contact with our customers: we bring this intimate knowledge of our markets, our customers and their needs to the group. 

In which areas does distribution play a role in scouting the markets?

David Molho: Yes, distribution is indeed facing changes, sometimes one step ahead of the rest. Prefabrication and ventilation are two areas in which distribution, in the Nordic countries as well as in England and France, is a trendsetter. There is also the whole on-site recycling part, particularly in France.

 

Have you identified synergies within the Distribution Performance Department?

Patrice Richard: The use of data, logistics, self-service and exhibition merchandising, strategy; all this know-how can be shared. Three examples: the Internet of Things initiated by Denmark, exhibition know-how, an area of expertise of the Swiss brand Sanitas Troesch, or Point.P's expertise in self-service.

David Molho: I would add the sharing of good commercial and organizational practices related to Covid, in particular adaptations made in points of sale and the way of interacting with our customers digitally.

Precisely, can these synergies help to understand the health crisis better, or to accompany recovery ?

Patrice Richard: Digital technology, especially e-commerce, has effectively enabled us to maintain customer relations in countries that have been in lockdown.

"Our main topic is the implementation of the ambitious climate plans to which all our teams are contributing."

David Molho: In the Nordic countries recovery plans have benefited sectors other than construction, which has not stopped. Our main topic is the implementation of the ambitious climate plans to which all our teams are contributing. Because with or without Covid, the planet must keep going. Nordic countries are really leading the way on the "green shift".

How does distribution contribute to Saint-Gobain's new purpose, "Making the world a better home", launched last September? 

David Molho:  Firstly, distribution participated in developing this purpose, which was very well received and quickly adopted at all levels. The teams feel involved because they see that their day-to-day activities fit into this framework.

"Distribution is at the heart of Saint-Gobain's purpose"

Patrice Richard: Distribution is at the heart of Saint-Gobain's purpose: we bring solutions to the market that address all the aspects that contribute to it. We crystallize the energies of all our suppliers; we enable Saint-Gobain to distribute these solutions through our point of sale networks, with one every 9 km on average in France.

What is the Distribution Performance Department's roadmap for the coming years?

David Molho: The initial roadmap is still valid: helping the business units to accelerate their development, sharing best practices, thinking together and among experts on common issues.

Patrice Richard:  I see two strong trends. Firstly, the global challenges of our world directly impact distribution: the environment in the broadest sense, growing demands for comfort and health, and the ability to integrate and train people in our territories. Secondly, we have no need to fear purely digital players if we do our job well: pricing, product information, a multi-channel system, the quality of our sales outlets (the third most important place for professional customers), and delivery to complex sites. 

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