Main menu


Departure of the CEO of Lactalis, Philippe Palazzi, The reasons

Departure of the CEO of Lactalis, Philippe Palazzi, The reasons

Philippe Palazzi, CEO of Lactalis, left his post after fifteen months in office. Irreconcilable differences of opinion appeared with Emmanuel Besnier, the president and shareholder of the world number one in dairy products, on the ten-year future of the group.

Philippe Palazzi left the general management of Lactalis fifteen months after taking office. Why such a hasty departure?

It's not a man's problem, we say in the group. But the result of an irreconcilable divergence of views on the future of the world leader in dairy products, which weighs more than 21 billion euros. Where and how to lead Lactalis by 2033? It is at this decisive point that Philippe Palazzi, general manager of the group for fifteen months, and Emmanuel Besnier have not managed to agree. The shift in points of view on growth, its speed, the choice of markets, operational methods began to be seen a few weeks ago during discussions on the group's ten-year future.

The two men exchanged on many occasions in the presence of the COMEX and also face to face on the subject without managing to find the necessary balance of views. There was no sudden break. There was no clash. No open crisis. It is also not in the DNA of Emmanuel Besnier, whose former general manager, Daniel Jaouen said that "he never raises his voice, but we quickly feel when he is not happy".

Emmanuel Besnier, who took over from his father at the age of 29, increased the group's turnover by dint of acquisitions carried out at a frantic pace of 5 to 8 transactions per year. The speed of execution at Lactalis is notorious. The ambition of its president too. He is ranked fourteenth in France's fortune by Forbes magazine.

Very different and complementary men

The choice of Philippe Palazzi, who has spent his entire career with the Métro distributor, surprised many. The man is very different from Emmanuel Besnier, not to say his opposite. Cultivating the human relationship and wishing to develop it, where Emmanuel Besnier prefers great discretion. Two complementary characters after all, who appreciated and separated smoothly. By mutual agreement according to the ritual formula.

Jugé très chaleureux en interne, Philippe Palazzi était très apprécié pour la convivialité qu'il a apportée et les nouveaux modes de fonctionnement en interne. Avec beaucoup d'ouverture, de nombreuses réunions en vidéo destinées à l'ensemble des collaborateurs. sous l'impulsion de Philippe Palazzi, le COMEX s'est réuni beaucoup plus fréquemment, accueillant des intervenants extérieurs et «une vraie respiration», dit-on dans le groupe. Il a également assoupli les relations avec les producteurs de lait. et instauré une relation jugée «nettement plus partenariale» par certains. Des accords ont pu ainsi être signés sur la gestion des volumes à la hausse ou à la baisse.

Tous ces apports ont officiellement été appréciés par Emmanuel Besnier. Ce n'est pas son bilan qui pêche, dit on au Comex.

Will Philippe Palazzi have a successor? Maybe, but not necessarily with the same responsibilities. This will be the subject of several weeks of reflection with COMEX.