Saint-Gobain to surf on the renovation wave, CEO will step down

Saint-Gobain’s Chief Executive Pierre-André de Chalendar will step down this summer, the French construction materials group announced on Thursday, while it reported record second-half results, fuelled by an increased demand on the renovation market which should continue in the following years.

With effect from July 1, Chalendar, whose mandate was set to end in 2022, will be succeeded as CEO by current Chief Operating Officer Benoit Bazin but will stay on as chairman.

“Benoit has managed, with the success we see today, critical projects like our transformation plan ‘Transform & Grow’ or the acquisition of Continental Building Products,” Chalendar said in a statement.

Launched in 2018, Saint-Gobain’s restructuring programme reshaped the group’s organisation around regional units, helping it comply with local pandemic-related restrictions.

“Over the year as a whole, we unlocked significant savings of 690 million euros, with a strong contribution from ‘Transform & Grow’ which met its target of 250 million euros in structural gains in 2019-2020 a year earlier than planned,” Chalendar added.

Saint-Gobain, which makes the bulk of its sales in Europe, benefited from its exposure to renovation, its biggest market, and posted a 2.03 billion euros ($2.47 billion) operating income in the second half, leading to a record operating margin of 10%.

Interest in interior renovation increased in 2020 due to lockdowns, the group said in a call with reporters, noting energy renovation plans in Europe and the United States, both in residential and public buildings, would contribute to Saint-Gobain’s growth from 2021.

Last October, the European Commission launched its “Renovation Wave” initiative to double the Union’s annual rate of energy-related building renovations.

Saint-Gobain, which manufactures and distributes materials in sectors ranging from automotive to health, security or food and beverages, forecast a significant increase in operating income this year.

($1 = 0.8204 euros)