Interview: A word from the Editor
Christophe Nicolet:"FELCO: locally based production for internationally based clientele"
Following gradual immersion throughout the first six months of 2011, Christophe Nicolet has taken the helm as CEO at FELCO. Meeting the first non-family director of the company.
Christophe, as from the 1st July 2011, you will be CEO of FELCO. First off, tell us about yourself and how you came to join FELCO?
My career path took a rather unusual turn. Following initial training to become an electrical engineer, I took a mechanical engineering course. During the first ten years of my professional career, I worked mainly within the engineering sector and initially I spent a period of two years abroad in the United States, in Detroit.
Subsequently, my wife and I decided to move to South East Asia. This was made a reality when I discovered that the Swatch Group was looking for somebody to set up a production site in Malaysia. My responsibilities widened: from an engineer and I moved onto management.
In 2007, I returned to Switzerland and I took on the executive management role within the Swatch Group for three years. However, I found the watch sector too limited to the Watch Valley and I missed the international aspect. I felt the need to change paths...
I heard that FELCO was looking for a new CEO and immediately the penny dropped. I had heard about the company, in my former role we used to employ many women whose husbands worked at FELCO. I had heard people positively talking about the company, comparing it to a family unit. In other words, a company who cares about its employees, their personal development, a company respectful of ethics.
You are just about to assume your duties as a CEO... What kind of tasks await you?
We have a huge project which began a number of months ago, the introduction of an ERP system, enterprise resource planning software.
We must also rethink the overall production plan. Our sales clearly follow seasonality trends: 70% of sales are made within 5 or 6 months, the remainder of the year is dedicated to production and stock taking. Our production tool was essentially established for the production of large quantities.
However, in the present climate, in light of the changes governing market requirements and climatic requirements - particularly, the delayed seasons - we must be more flexible. With this in mind, we must reorganize certain workshops.
The aim is to secure a production tool which is capable of reacting more rapidly, dealing with smaller quantities, or which can implement quantity modifications more rapidly.
This is fundamental given the fact that we are present in more than 100 countries...
The international aspect is appropriately the main focus of this edition of FELCO Passion. What is it so important?
Our survival is ensured thanks to the 100 countries to which we export. Our production is locally based whilst our clientele is internationally based. Many of our partners are internationally based and we pay particular attention to our communication materials which are produced in many languages: for example, the package labeling and our Internet site are available in 13 languages.
Interviewed by Stéphane Hérès