Georges Plassat is Carrefour's new CEO. An extraordinary meeting on Sunday evening finally confirmed the rumours that the world's second largest distributor would let go its Swedish CEO Lars Olofsson. Plassat will become Carrefour's new chairman starting 8 March.
Since last Thursday, rumours that Olofsson was bound to leave soon were becoming ever stronger. Some sources mentioned “before the end of the week” (which proved to be just about right), others even stated “within the next 48 hours” (a bit too optimistic). Carrefour and Plassat's current employer Vivarte refused to comment on the news that French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche made public on Sunday evening.
Welcome home, Georges Plassat!
Since 2000, Plassat has been chairman and (a few years later) co-owner of the French apparel group Vivarte, most famous for its brands Kookaï and Naf Naf. Before that, he was the head of Carrefour's Spanish division (1997-1999): this move might well mean a kind of homecoming for Plassat, whose first managerial job however was at Carrefour's main rivals Casino – where Plassat has worked from 1982 till 1997.
Carrefour now hopes Plassat can bring the chain on the right track – especially on its French home market. Carrefour's shares have lost almost 50% of their value in the last 12 months, due to an impressive series of profit warnings and other bad news. When the first strong rumours of Plassat's appointment resurfaced last week, shares immediately went up 7% again. Plassat is famous for being “an experienced cost-killer and a saviour of brands in distress”, as Atos-chairman Thierry Breton told French newspaper Le Figaro.
Painful exit for Olofsson
For current CEO Lars Olofsson, the news will not have come as a surprise. Olofsson's three years as Carrefour's leader were a quick succession of profit warnings and failures. His most important projects, the conquest of Brazil and the rebranding of Carrefour's hypermarkets into 'Planets', both led to failure. Financial results deteriorated and analysts grew more negative, despite the efforts of Carrefour's main shareholder Blue Capital to reinforce Olofsson's power. Their efforts proved to be unsuccessful, and after three years of Swedish reign, Carrefour returns to French leadership.