Bic General Assembly: “Diversity and education are an integral part of our DNA”
This Tuesday, May 16, is the annual general meeting of Bic, the world leader in stationery, lighters and disposable razors. This meeting brings together the shareholders of the French company in the Cloud Business Center where they are welcomed by a breakfast buffet. A quick visit to the reception allowed us to recover the tablet which will allow us to vote on the 27 resolutions on the agenda. We counted 480 actions, under the 7 mandates received from the readers of Investir. The auditors are Grant Thorton and Deloitte. At the end of the meeting, Deloitte will be replaced by the firm EY.
The shareholders are installed, the meeting can begin. Nikos Koumettis speaks. This is his first general meeting as chairman of the board. He introduces the managers and administrators present in the room, then gives the floor to Gonzalve Bich. The CEO retraces the highlights of the year 2022. He highlights in particular the exceptional growth in the company’s turnover, which reached 2,234 million euros, up 13.8%. The maintenance of attractive remuneration for shareholders and the targeted investments of the company founded in 1945 are also cited as successes of the industrialist’s strategy. The proposed dividend for the 2022 financial year is 2.56 euros, up 19.1% compared to last year.
Despite a strong increase in its sales volume, Bic saw its operating margin decrease from 15.3% in 2021 to 14% in 2022. In question, the strong inflation which characterized the last financial year and which led to a increase in operating expenses. For 2023, Bic is targeting an improvement in its operating result thanks to a readjustment of the operating margin. In this difficult macroeconomic environment, Gonzalve Bich nevertheless believes that “ the Horizon Plan has proven itself in 2022. To continue its growth, the company notably acquired three companies last year, Tattly, Inkbox and Ami. These targeted acquisitions have enabled the company to diversify its activities, particularly in the field of temporary tattoos.
The must-have for back-to-school
The floor is now Samiya Sahridj. The Director of Business Development for France and Benelux begins her presentation by highlighting the acceleration of Bic’s e-commerce distribution. Its online sales are growing strongly and now represent 13% of the company’s turnover in France. The number one back-to-school item (46% market share in 2022) now accounts for 22% of Amazon’s stationery sales. Bic’s will is simple, ” roll out across all distribution channels so that consumers can find the essentials whatever their buying journey “. The company, which sells approximately 65,000 4-color pens per day, its emblematic product, intends to strengthen its commercial offer with a pen personalization service or the installation of 4-color bars, already in place in the stores of the Bureau Vallée chain. .
Bic’s two other businesses, lighters and razors, also show strong momentum. The company is the leader in the lighter market in France and holds 23% of the razor market, behind Gillette and Wilkinson. The business development director highlights Bic’s partnership with three players from the France rugby team who will participate in the 2023 World Cup to consolidate its position in the razor market.
“Writing the Future Together”
Elizabeth Maul, Director of Insights, Innovation and Sustainability, speaks. Bic has set ambitious goals for 2025. Through its “Writing the Future Together” program, the company aims to use 100% renewable electricity in its production chain and contribute to improving living conditions. proactively helping 250 million children around the world through education.
Elizabeth Maul underlines the support of the Bic Foundation for the association Rêv’elles, which accompanies thousands of women, aged 14 to 20, in their career choices. By supporting this initiative which aims to open the field of possibilities » and to « support young women in their ability to act », Bic demonstrates the importance that the company attaches to the representation of women in its businesses.
Bic is also committed to protecting ecosystems through the Tara Ocean Foundation, with which it has developed a scientific research program, Bic Sea. The objective is to understand the challenges of biodiversity in connection with the life cycle of Bic products in order to find sustainable solutions.
Redemption of shares
The shareholders were then able to ask their questions about the company’s activities.
A first question on the evolution of the Bic share price on the stock market allowed the CEO to express his disappointment on the evolution of the value of the share but to reaffirm his motivation for the future, without comment or additional explanation. .
A question on the evolution of equity in the accounts of the company allowed one of the administrators to explain that the hyperinflation in Argentina forced a special accounting of equity in this country.
Question on the share buyback program. The company has carried out several share buyback programs with so-called “ESG” components from 2021. These operations aimed to redistribute shares to ESG associations in favor of the fight for education. This program is not being renewed this year.
A shareholder raises the question of the potential development of a so-called “luxury” range by Bic. The general manager replies that such a project was already carried out a few years ago with Sheaffer pens, an activity that was not completed and then sold by Bic. The inadequacy of this subsidiary with the group’s other activities, both in terms of the distribution networks and the method of product promotion, led to the sale of this activity.
The session ends with the vote on the resolutions. The 27 resolutions on the agenda were adopted by majority.