PARIS — Carrefour SA chief executive officer Georges Plassat made his first public appearance Thursday following surgery and medical leave that kept him off work for almost three months.
“I am progressively getting better and better,” said Plassat at the company’s annual general meeting, asking shareholders to renew his mandate of administrator at the firm until the end of 2017.
Shareholders in the retailer, the world’s second-largest behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc., voted 89 percent in favor of renewing Plassat’s mandate, which opens the way for the company’s advisory board to name him for a second term as ceo.
In 2012, Plassat was charged with turning the then-struggling retailer around, and has since led the firm to exit underperforming international markets and refine its portfolio, focusing on a multiformat model.
The firm’s results have since improved, and in 2014, it saw a 6.7 percent rise in recurring operating profit year-over-year to 2.39 billion euros, or $3.18 billion at average exchange for the period, as reported.
Plassat praised the work of chief financial officer Pierre-Jean Sivignon and general secretary Jérôme Bédier, named as deputy ceo’s during his absence, and suggested that going forward, Carrefour would be managed by a devolved management team.
Plassat is 66, and Carrefour’s statutes limit the age of its ceo to 70.
“The group is preparing for the future with a form of repartition of power between a larger number of people,” he said. “My role will be to accompany the teams.”
Speaking of the company’s priorities for development, Plassat cited an increasing focus on digital and evolved payment methods alongside a more targeted local offer, in line with changing shopping habits.
Carrefour recently opened its first e-commerce site and local convenience stores in China, where it is refining its model, for example.
Shareholders at the meeting also voted in favor of granting board seats to two members of the Moulin family, which controls Galeries Lafayette and early this year increased its stake in Carrefour to 9.5 percent.
Philippe Houzé, chairman of Galeries Lafayette and an observer on Carrefour’s board since October, and Patricia Lemoine, the daughter of Ginette Moulin, who heads the department-store operator’s advisory board and is the granddaughter of its founder, both become directors of Carrefour.