We reported in the last issue of our publication that Georges Plassat was not going to leave as president and chief executive of Vivarte, the large French shoe and apparel retailing group that runs big footwear chains such as André, Minelli and San Marina. He told us at the beginnng of January that he was going to stay at its helm, contrary to recent rumors in the French press.
The situation has apparently evolved since then. Plassat had refused an offer to become chief executive of Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart, because of a share of about 10 percent that he had obtained in Vivarte in 2007 through a leveraged management buyout. That problem has apparently been solved now.
Antoine Metzger, a veteran of Vivarte who participated in the MBO, is going to take Plassat's place. He has been recently acting as the group's secretary general and as second-in-command. Keeping at bay numerous suppliers who have been complaining about the delayed payment of their bills has been one of his most delicate tasks lately, according to insistent reports in Le Cuir on the subject.
On the other hand, Vivarte has agreed to raise its wages by 2 percent from last month, and by an additional 0.5 percent from next July. Employees at some of its shoe retail chains, such as Chaussland and La Halle aux Chaussures, had been holding intermittent strikes to support their demands for a wage hike of 3 percent.
Plassat has been running Vivarte, formerly called Groupe André. Known as a smart company doctor who is not afraid of implementing changes, he worked for Carrefour before, running its Spanish operations. He will join Carrefour on Apr. 2 as chief operating officer, but he is due to be subsequently appointed CEO at the shareholders' meeting in mid-June. The group's two main shareholders, Groupe Arnault (the holding company of Bernard Arnault that controls LVMH) and Colony Capital, are said to have endorsed his nomination already.
At Carrefour, the 61-year-old Plassat will take the place of Lars Olofsson, a former executive of Nestlé with less retail experience who had been appointed in 2008. Carrefour's share price on the stock exchange fell by 45 percent in the course of last year, following a series of profit warnings and stagnating sales. Carrefour's total revenues of over €91 billion compare with about €3.2 billion at Vivarte.