“As a family company since 1623, we obviously know what a long-term strategy is, and we have always had this will to firmly establish ourselves throughout the French territory. Sustainability is an integral part of our DNA,” Tristan Farabet, General Manager of the Pochet Group, claims straight away. Indeed, few companies can boast such a history, though they may still be leaders in their businesses. “The group has always given itself the means to remain a family company, by investing to preserve customers’ trust,” he continues.
In addition, to keep their leadership, Pochet has defined themselves an ambition to be fulfilled by 2023: becoming “the best global high-end packaging company for perfumery and beauty, and a favourite of customers for their inventiveness, the excellence of their multimaterial know-how, the commitment of their teams, and their CSR strategy.”
As an integral part of the group’s strategy, over the past few years, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has actually become a significant competitiveness parameter for major brands’ suppliers. “Sustainability challenges have gained ground in the luxury sector. There is a real customer expectation in this field.” Brands define themselves concrete, sometimes ambitious objectives, so they require important commitments from all players in the value chain. “Today, certain customers have to put an end to their relationships with suppliers who do not make enough progress in terms of CSR. For us, it is an advantage, in particular compared to our competitors in low-cost countries,” Tristan Farabet explains.
Sustainability, excellence, profitability
The Pochet Group has based their CSR strategy on four pillars: preserving the planet (reduction of sites’ and products’ environmental footprint, circular economy), exchanging and cooperating with all stakeholders to “make progress together”, respecting men and taking them into consideration, and, lastly, preserving and sharing know-how. All this should be done bearing in mind that to be sustainable, growth obviously needs to remain profitable, and the luxury sector involves a demand for excellence on which there can be no compromise.
“It is difficult to reconcile all these requirements, but it is possible and, as a matter of fact, it is essential,” emphasizes Pierre Dehé, Corporate Social Responsibility Director of the group. “Things change very fast, on all levels. For example, today, we know how to make wonderful products with less glass.”
As regards environmental protection, the Pochet Group intends to focus on two areas: products and processes. “The first step obviously involves measuring our impact,” Pierre Dehé explains. Once criteria have been defined, reduction commitments are measured and determined for each site, with annual road maps. The group aims to reduce their water consumption by 70%, their CO2 emissions by 20%, and their Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emissions by 50%.
On the Qualipac Aluminium site in Saint-Saturnin-du-Limet, 40km south of Laval in the west of France, the group invested 4 million euros to build a wastewater treatment plant to treat all the anodizing baths, for releases 10 times lower than regulatory thresholds.
Of course, environmental protection would be meaningless if it did not go hand in hand with consideration for men. That is why the group has undertaken to reach a zero accident objective on all its production sites and eradicate CMR products.
“We also aim to improve our processes,” Pierre Dehé adds: to him, environmental protection can also be a way to improve performance. For example, on the Qualipac site in Aurillac, in central France, innovative electroplating processes will help remove hexavalent chromium from the process on a new production line – it should be operational by the end of 2017 – as well as divide the concentration of chromium and nickel releases by 20. The energy released by heating baths will also be recovered to reduce energy consumption by 10 to 15%. “The environmental and social dimension is taken into account in all our investments.”
Preserving and sharing know-how
Another key element in this CSR strategy is to preserve and share know-how. Half of the group’s sites in France will be classified as an “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” (Living Heritage Company). “We are at the meeting point of craftsmanship and the industry: we produce industrial quantities, but for very high quality products and prestigious brands,” explains Tristan Farabet. As a matter of fact, 70% of the group’s production lines undergo at least one adjustment every day, which requires much human handling.
On the glassmaking site of Guimerville, in Normandy, the group has identified the key trades and skills to share know-how. The idea is not only to guarantee know-how durability, but also to make employees progress, level by level. In addition, it is an enhancement tool to visualize the aspects in which progress can be made and implement personalized training plans. The next step consists in setting up the Pochet Academy, an internal training programme for the whole group to support the staff in advancing in their careers and preserve their skills, while making sure they integrate new knowledge.
The survey conducted every other year among the entire group’s employees reveals real pride in their trade: over 70%. To the Pochet Group’s leaders, this pride is a significant driver for staff commitment and the group’s performance. CSR commitments can only strengthen them.
Of course, the group’s suppliers are associated with this strategy, as most of them must even undertake to comply with a charter on responsible purchases. More generally speaking, Pochet aims to work in collaboration with all their partners to make progress as regards these issues. Once a year, the group will hold working sessions with customers, suppliers, and NGOs to identify new avenues for progress. The first is scheduled for late 2017.
As a family group and a flagship of the French industry, Pochet means to rely on their advantages to implement this new project based on customer satisfaction and staff commitment. “Our employees themselves identify with these values and find them meaningful,” Tristan Farabet concludes.