IN Groupe, The right to be you

2009-09-14 - Les Echos
Didier Trutt : a fresh start for the Imprimerie Nationale

Some would have given up, other would have called in sick, but Didier Trutt never for one instant considered beating a retreat. His new position as a printer of secure documents (cards, passports, visas, driving licences, etc.) flatters him. This giant with gentle manners is proud to associate his name to the history of this institution, which was founded in 1640 by the Cardinal de Richelieu under the name of Manufacture Royale d'Imprimerie. Five centuries later, the institution has lost its splendour. Its headquarters are located in an impersonal building in Porte Maillot, far from its cherished heritage, the Cabinet des Poinçons (Punch Room), which has been relocated to Ivry. The Imprimerie Nationale is recovering but 'the patient' is still fragile.
In 2004, the Imprimerie Nationale was on the verge of bankruptcy. Since then, it received State bailout, and was drastically reorganized by its previous CEO, who cut the workforce in three but the public company still hasn't reached levels of productivity and profitability that would ensure its sustainability. Worse still, in July, the Attorney General of Paris began a preliminary investigation for « corruption, misuse and misappropriation of company assets ». Since 2000, bribes were allegedly paid with the aim of obtaining business deals in several countries, including Romania, Senegal and Syria. Didier Trutt joined the Imprimerie Nationale on August 24th. Seven days later, while reading the newspaper, he found out about the investigation. The same day he wrote an open letter to the employees to declare that he would not opt out. Since, Didier Trutt has rolled up his sleeves to establish the Imprimerie Nationale on the very competitive market of secure products.

Strengthened at Thomson
The industrialist shared Thomson's chaotic destiny for twenty-five years and learnt a lesson from the company's failures. After leading the television market in the 1990's, the Group was exhausted by Asian competition and forced to stop its flagship activity in 2004. Didier Trutt, Head of Tube Operations, was designated to handle the painful mission of liquidating the component division.
Didier Trutt's story with the nation's pride was off to a good start. The first ten years were happy years. Sent to Singapore in 1987 and then to Bangkok, the engineer managed production in Asia. When Thomson bought Telefunken, RCA and Saba out, Didier Trutt started working six-day weeks. Him and his wife, who had become a tourist guide, visited the region during his rare holidays. Two of his children were born is Asia, the youngest was born in Paris
Things went downhill upon his return in France. In 1996, the group, deeply in debt, came close to being sold to Daewoo for a symbolic franc. In fine Thomson Multimedia was recapitalized by the State and forced to cut costs. The Vice President of Tube Operations had to learn to rationalize; he opened factories in China and Poland and closed some in the United States. From then onwards, the group's face and perimeter constantly changed. It specialized in decoders and video equipment. From 2005 onwards, the Executive Vice President managed purchases, information systems and industrial strategy. By then the company had changed so much that its top executive managers did not even know one another. Didier Trutt even had to introduce himself at each meeting …
At the Imprimerie Nationale, Didier Trutt is not just a number: he is number one. At forty-nine, he is free at last.