François Thuilleur (Paredes): “We opened the capital to employees in 2021” – Le Journal des Entreprises

You set up an employee share ownership plan in 2021, why?

When I arrived in 2017 at the head of Paredes (650 employees, €215 million turnover in 2022), the capital of this family business, then 100% owned by the Paredes family, had never been opened, in four -twenty years. I decided to launch this employee shareholding operation because I am convinced that a solid company must be able to rely on a strong employee pillar and that such a system makes it possible to motivate employees. We therefore asked CIC Lyonnaise de Banque to create a company mutual fund (FCPE) to allow employees to buy shares in the company.

How many employees are now shareholders of Paredes?

Two-thirds of the employees, i.e. more than 400 employees out of 650 took part in this operation and we were even surprised by the result; some storekeepers or secretaries have put in several months’ salary, which for them represents a significant investment. It must be said that the formula for calculating the value of the Paredes share is based on the evolution of EBITDA (gross operating surplus); each time EBITDA increases over a financial year, the value of the share increases in the same way. Thus, in 2022, the value of CIPF has increased by more than 100%, because the results have been very good. It is very motivating for the employees. Currently, employees hold around 2.5% of the company, but we will reopen the capital every two years – the next operation will take place in July – to reach 10% employee shareholding.

Have you introduced other value-sharing instruments?

Yes, we have also set up a super incentive, through which we pay a third of the profits to employees. When I took over the management of Paredes, the company was losing a lot of money. Since we returned to profit in 2020, the employees have therefore all received an incentive bonus, of 4,200 euros in 2021 for the previous financial year and 1,600 euros in 2022 for the 2021 financial year.

Would you recommend this type of instrument to other business leaders?

I think there is no miracle recipe and every business situation is different; it is part of the leaders’ responsibility to choose the most suitable value-sharing tool for their business. For my part, the opening up of capital has worked well, in particular because I strongly believe in long-term capital which involves all of the company’s stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers, the State… The Marxist opposition between capital and employees no longer works today. However, sharing the value does not mean that we are a charitable association either, we are moreover the most profitable company in our sector. It is not because a company is generous that it is not efficient.

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