Bolloré's lay-off: the way he was managing Renault has weighed in the decision than his links with Ghosn

Il y a un an, il y a un siècle...

The show goes on and the last episode was the brutal eviction of Thierry Bolloré (Renault's CEO) on Friday.
This is willingly commented on as the counterpart to Saikawa's which would have been desired by the Nissans and - as some presume - agreed by Jean-Dominique Senard (Renault's Chairman) that the trio of leadership candidates should be put in the order he wanted to see prevail.
The government and the agency of state shareholdings ("APE3: Agence des Participations de l'Etat) which, after having wished for the Renault-Nissan merger and having favourably considered the Renault-FCA operation, seem to have finally understood since the beginning of June that the relaunch of the Alliance should be the priority given to J.-D. Senard would have validated the option. The undertaking would therefore mainly be a process of "de-ghosnisation" of the top management of the two companies necessary for a new start.
If this interpretation contains some truth, it is probably a little short, however.
Indeed, at this game, in companies that have had C. Ghosn for CEO for 15 to 20 years, the purge would never be complete and, in fact, in the current management teams, there are still people who were recruited and/or promoted by C. Ghosn and who have endorsed his style of management and/or his vision of the Alliance.
Similarly, among the people who left Renault because of Thierry Bolloré and the sideline he offered them as their only career opportunity, some were at least as Ghosnian as he was. This prism cannot therefore be fully satisfactory and if only three out of 18 people abstained when voting on his dismissal, it is because the work done by T. Bolloré at the head of Renault has not convinced many.
As Anne Feitz of Les Echos writes: "Thierry Bolloré has not confirmed the test" and "the choice of former consultants or automotive beginners, combined with the departure of many managers (some of whom were appreciated by the staff), has alerted the Board". For once, one could say, the Council (and the APE in particular) seems to have been concerned about the work of Renault teams and perceived that there was a problem.
In addition to the very average commercial results and the clear decline in financial results for 2019 H1, the feeling that seems to have spread throughout the company was that of a growing difficulty in doing one's job well because it was impossible, given the stubbornness of the management, to make people admit the inapplicability of certain reorganisations decided very far from the field by the top management who preferred to listen to the BCG than to its teams.
Les Echos cites the case of the FAST program designed to "make the company more agile" which has caused many problems.
We could also recall the episode that F. Lagarde recounted on 24 September concerning the PR centre in Cergy (Eragny) with the deployment of a new store management information system, the famous Manhattan WMS (Warehouse Management System) in July: designed to improve customer service, it has led to an unprecedented deterioration in quality and put the networks in difficulty.
This summer, the commercial department for France decided to suspend the quality ratings of the network's workshops.
We can also make the link with the findings that Tuesday's analysis of Renault and Dacia's registration figures highlights: faced with the new Bonus Malus scheme provided for in the Government's 2020 French provisional budget, the Renault group will be heavily penalised by the application of this new scale with barely one third of registrations in the neutral zone for Renault (31%) and only 11% for Dacia. On the other hand, F. Lagarde pointed out, "PSA's brands (excluding Opel) appear to be very well positioned since 69% of Citroën's registrations and 62% of Peugeot's would remain exempt from the penalty".
The Bolloré problem was partly there. It is called Tavares: T. Koskas, A. Deboeuf or V. Cobée (top managers who left Renault over the last few months) did not go to Ford or Kia but to PSA.
Indeed, unlike many employees, they, who have the opportunity to take advantage of the mercato, have left a world where they no longer feel they can do their job properly to join a company and teams where strategic and operational questions are asked and processed.
It is not just the product plan that puts the PSA Sochaux plant in overheating while Renault's Douai is suffering terribly. These are just about all the issues. The transition to WLTP last summer and the management of the CO2 targets for 2020 seem to be much more closely monitored at PSA than at Renault. Even on the electric side, the Renault cars end up wondering if Zoe won't be overtaken by the e-208 at the beginning of 2020, just as the Clio V might have trouble repeating the IV's performance against the 208 and C3.
Such comparisons between the two close enemies of the French automobile industry are traditional and it is recurrent that one suffers from the benchmark.
Renault could - and still can - boast of having succeeded in its inter-continentalization where PSA has largely failed.
The problem for the past year has been that Thierry Bolloré has not been able to convince his teams that he was giving them the means to climb the slope on which the company seemed to be sliding.
Typically, the 2022 plan in which no one believes anymore has not been reviewed and T. Bolloré, when presenting the half-year results, simply stated that he trusted the Clio V and then the new Captur to resume progress towards the targeted volumes and profits. It was a little short to convince. Above all, this was giving his teams the impression that he did not see his boat drifting.
The French governement had given J.-D. Senard the task of restoring the Alliance to working order on the one hand and providing Renault with a new management team on the other hand. On the first issue, after the worst had been feared and after he had himself appeared undecided, J.-D. Senard returned from Japan with, if not assurances, at least fairly solid reasons to believe that the slow reconstruction work would begin. It remains to be hoped that he will finally be able to tackle the second part with the triumvirate set up on Friday at first and then quickly finding a manager for Renault who will finally give employees the feeling that they can work properly.
*          *          *, corrections by Géry Deffontaines

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