Despite the hard knocks, Cofidur EMS connects to growth – Le Journal des Entreprises – Maine-et-Loire
On March 26, 2023 in Laval (Mayenne), the Cofidur EMS factory caught fire. The fire destroyed 500 m2 of buildings, with stock and equipment. Other machines nearby were soiled. The employees of the Laval site (240 employees on permanent contracts and 40 temporary workers) were put on partial unemployment for three days, the time to ensure compliance with the safety and working conditions of the people. The plant covers 30,000 m2 of premises and only 500 m2 of the annex building (and not the main building) were destroyed. The activity concerned was dedicated to a single client. It will be able to restart at the end of April, on other machines. As for the damaged building and equipment, their restart “will take months”, breathes Gilles Delaunay, HRD and associate director of the group. The losses are estimated in millions of euros, “but it is too early to assess it precisely”.
Although serious, this incident “will not slow down our projects”, assures Laurent Dupoiron, president of Cofidur. The group, which also has a factory in Périgueux with 150 employees, achieved a turnover of 55.8 million euros in 2022 and has the ambition to reach 80 million euros in 2025. From 2023, the manufacturer hopes to recruit at least 30 permanent employees, some of whom will come from its pool of temporary workers.
To achieve this growth, Cofidur EMS will rely on new markets and the development of existing markets. The company manufactures electronic cards for professional uses (i.e. other than consumer products): they are found in airplanes, public lighting, parking meters, gambling terminals , etc. The so-called “industrial” outlets represent two-thirds of the activity; rail, armament and aeronautics represent a quarter, lighting 14%. Some 1.8 million electronic cards are produced each year.
The company supplies the railway sector, for which it plans to develop with new or existing customers. “We are working on it, in particular by obtaining certifications. The latest is the Iris (International Railway Industry Standard)”, specifies Gilles Delaunay. “Other subjects may come up soon, in particular in the field of armaments, adds Laurent Dupoiron. Budgets (for the armies, editor’s note) have been voted recently”. Since Cofidur EMS is already a Defense supplier, the manager hopes to take advantage of this buoyant wind.
The return of Alcatel
Before these promises, a more concrete contract was officially won on March 10, 2023 with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE): Cofidur EMS was entrusted with the assembly and integration of all telephone exchanges for the ALE world. , until now subcontracted to the American Flextronics in Romania. The company plans to produce around 20,000 a year. These telephone exchanges, called PABXs, allowing the centralized management of a company’s communications, are manufactured to order, since they are configured according to the customer’s needs. Telecoms today represent only 5% of Cofidur EMS’ activity. This relocation will make it possible to inflate this segment.
“Our collaboration with Alcatel-Lucent Entreprise illustrates this ability to manufacture in France”, commented Laurent Dupoiron, when signing the contract. ALE prides itself on being the only European supplier to develop and deliver business telecommunications solutions. Owned by the Chinese investment fund Huaxin, but based in the Paris region, ALE has 2,000 employees, including 1,000 in France. Cofidur EMS will recruit fifteen to twenty people in Laval especially to respond to this new activity. Its imminent start requires some new investments in software and workstations. “I who started my career in a factory of telephone exchanges at Thomson, I will do it again 35 years later”, smiles Laurent Dupoiron.
Diversification will remain modest, but will bring its stone to growth, and appears above all for the Mayenne as a symbolic revenge on the upset past of the site. This was originally an Alcatel factory, from 1995 to 2001. “At the time, there were 1,500 people here, to manufacture mobile phones,” says Laurent Dupoiron. The factory then experienced many upheavals. It was sold to the American Flextronics, which ended up relocating to Asia and closing the site on December 31, 2005. It was then that Cofidur EMS, which was installed in former Thomson premises at the other end of the city, bought it, taking 95 people (out of about 500).
These 95 employees remained on site, and the 300 from Cofidur EMS then joined them, as well as 25 employees from EMS Thalès (from Thomson). The Cofidur group was created in 1991 in the Paris region by Christian Durat, relying on his first company, Cirelec, born in the late sixties and manufacturing printed circuits. In 2021, the historic leaders of Cofidur, former executives who had kept control after the death of Christian Durat, retired. “They wanted to transmit, not sell”. This is how a change in governance took place: the group’s seven operational executives, including Laurent Dupoiron and Gilles Delaunay, bought it. They hold 49.8% of the shares, the company being listed on the stock market since 1996. “We keep control, despite everything”, they specify.
One million euros invested each year
In the new team’s Ambitions 2025 project, medium-term external growth “is part of the strategy”, confirms Laurent Dupoiron, without revealing more at this stage.
For its activity, the group relies on Cofitel, a partner which employs 85 people in Tunisia. However, Cofidur EMS does not have any particular international development objectives. “We have a few customers in Switzerland, Germany and Belgium, but our customers are mainly French. That said, these customers deliver all over the world”.
The group maintains a regular investment of more than one million euros per year in its sites. “We follow three axes, describes the president. We renew our equipment, to ensure a level of production. Then, we deploy the digitalization of processes, industry 4.0. Finally, we modernize the infrastructures. buildings, in Périgueux in the short term and in Laval in the medium term. We are also going to install photovoltaic shade houses, for self-consumption. The solar electricity produced will cover approximately 20% of our needs. Work has started in Périgueux and should begin at the end of 2023-beginning of 2024 here”, explains Laurent Dupoiron.