He dreamed of being a professional footballer. Serge Cordon is the captain of a much larger team: a group made up of 2,800 employees spread over 26 sites and 7 countries. If the septuagenarian is still sporty, it is rather on the golf courses that he trains while directing and controlling the eponymous group.
It has gradually become one of the main specialists in France and Europe in the after-sales service of consumer electronic products, in the forefront of which are smartphones, televisions and more recently… batteries for electric bicycles.
“I started, recalls Serge Cordon, whose head office of the group is installed close to Dinan (Côtes-d’Armor), by the maintenance of minitels. It was 1989. Since that date, what a journey. The manager is now at the head of a group made up of 2,800 employees, mainly on permanent contracts, to which are added “500 people employed in work-based support structures, in particular for people in professional reintegration”, continues the manager. Cordon Group entrusts them with electronic equipment maintenance tasks that complement those of the 26 locations of the Breton company. Seventeen are located in France and 9 abroad.
This tireless leader, whose teams process 23 million products a year, has not finished growing his business. “The objective is to reach an annual revenue of 500 million euros in five years,” he confides. This year, the group should generate a turnover of around 260 million euros.
An opening of capital
To achieve its new ambitions, Serge Cordon has planned an evolution of its capital with, in a few weeks, the entry as minority shareholders of Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas and Bpifrance. These three institutions will share 30% of the shares of Cordon Group, an additional 10% will be reserved for senior executives who will be offered share purchase facilities.
PODCAST – Jean-Pierre Arsonnet has always fought against relocation. For 30 years, he has managed the industrial SME created by his father. It relies on people, innovation and the international to continue to grow.
“I intend, continues the CEO, to retain the presidency of the group for another two years, then I will hand over while remaining a shareholder”, continues the one who has surrounded himself with high-level executives aged 38 to 45 who prepare to take over.
Until then, Serge Cordon fully intends to pursue external growth, in order to complete its system, which is also being strengthened internally. He recently created the “Cadaoz” brand, whose ranges are made up of second-hand mobile phones, checked (45 checkpoints), then put back on sale, notably on the Breton group’s website. “Agreements going in this direction are planned with Orange”, specifies Serge Cordon, without revealing the content of this next partnership.
Each year, more than 4 million euros are invested at Cordon Group in industrial optimization in order to automate as much as possible the control and maintenance operations of devices such as boxes, decoders, but also the coffee machines of the Senseo brand.
“I want to continue to fight,” insists Serge Cordon, who intends to further improve the profitability of his group to guarantee its independence and maintain its strategy, particularly in human resources. It tends towards exact parity between men and women and wants to double the number of female executives.
Serge Cordon also wishes to show the younger generations that with “only a baccalaureate in hand” one can succeed in a career as an industrial manager. In the book entitled “30 years: 1989-2019. The human adventure of an entrepreneur”, of which he is the author, he looks back on his long “humanist journey”.
* The Entrepreneur of the Year award is organized by EY, in partnership with HSBC, Verlingue, Steelcase and Bpifrance.