Let's take a closer look at the Imprimerie Nationale with its CEO, Didier Trutt.
The Imprimerie Nationale has made a fresh start by focusing on its core activity and investing in highly technical and booming market niches. After facing troubled times, significant financial losses and a drastic redundancy plan which prompted the departure of nearly 1 000 employees and the handover of a large part of its industrial assets, the Imprimerie Nationale now has an annual turnover of 130 million euros and 550 employees.
Caractères : It's hard not to mention the preliminary investigation that has been opened against the Imprimerie Nationale. What is your opinion on the issue?
Didier Trutt : The situation is a little touchy but I am confident over the company's future. I am determined to defend its reputation and know-how. I found out about the preliminary investigation in the newspaper just a few days after my appointment as CEO. I have nothing to say in the matter. The investigation is in progress. I would simply like to point out that the investigation concerns files dating from early-2000s, and that this investigation was triggered by an audit carried out by an independent company upon the Imprimerie Nationale's own request.
The Cabinet of Ministers appointed me in August for a five-year term. Upon my arrival, I wrote an open letter to the employees in which I stated my commitment to follow the company's code of ethics by the book. The code of ethics strongly condemns the violation of national legislation and international agreements in order to obtain business deals. The company has had to face troubled times but it has now recovered. My mission is to strengthen this newfound stability and to stimulate its strong potential for development.
C :According to trade unions, the reemployment of employees concerned with the redundancy plan is another sensitive issue. Where does it stand today.
D.T. : The Imprimerie Nationale will continue to help redundant employees that have not found a job. This issue is close to my heart. And I am happy to say that we were nevertheless able to maintain our know-how as a printer. The economic situation is morose and painful, but we must look ahead. The Employment Safeguard Scheme (PSE), signed in early-2005, concerned 250 employees. 19 of them are still unemployed, mostly civil servant workers. Another PSE was signed in September and concerned 72 employees working at our Choisy-le-Roi unit. 35 of them are still unemployed. In total, nearly 1 000 employees have left the Imprimerie Nationale since 2003, the majority of which left during sale operations. The plan ended in September 2008 with the sale of our Choisy unit. Although redundancy is never easy, and although not all redundant employees have found new jobs, those who have left the company outside sales, left in good conditions.
C : What are the Imprimerie Nationale's activities today.
D.T. : The company focuses on its core business: document. Our activity is divided into three fields of expertise: fiduciary, with the production of secure and personalized documents, our principal mission being the protection of everyone's identity - printed documents with the graphic platform and continuous printing - and electronic documents which imply exchange and secure archiving solutions. Our expertise is recognized by both administrations and the private sector.
We also have a fourth activity: l'Atelier du Livre d'Art et de l'Estampe (the Art Book and Art Print Workshop), which plays an important part in our history: the Imprimerie Nationale's excellence lives on thanks to the Atelier. The Atelier du Livre d'Art et de l'Estampe also maintains a unique heritage, the Cabinet des Poinçons (Punch Room). Our offices are located in Paris, Douai and Ivry-sur-Seine. All our fiduciary workshops have been relocated to Douai. The site has been modernized and secured and hires 500 employees. The Imprimerie Nationale invested a lot of money in the site in order to improve security and was rewarded with a PS1 classification (sensitive point of first category). Our headquarters are located in Paris alongside the best part of the graphic platform and the electronic management of documents.
C : What part does the graphic platform play?
D.T. : The graphic platform must offer a turnkey product to our clients, corporate customers, the administration, ministries, local authorities, etc… by handling the entire process from design, printing, forwarding, securitization, and personalization to dispatching. It's main objective is to offer added value to the client by providing a wide range of know-how: corporate customer relations, experience in government contracts and bid procedures, consulting, creativity, expertise in paper and printing techniques, expertise in production techniques, knowledge of subcontractor networks, etc… The Imprimerie Nationale is an ordering party rather than a competitor for printers. A quarter of documents are printed at our continuous printing workshop, the rest is outsourced. However great their know-how, our subcontractors are too small and/or do not have the means to work directly with corporate customers and large administrations. Without our graphic platform they would, for the most part, never have access to such markets.
C : The Imprimerie Nationale has widened the range of its activities in just a few years…
D.T. : The Department for Transport has entrusted our subsidiary, ChronoServices, (public service delegation agreement) with the production and management of tachograph cards for French transport companies, a 'black box' fitted into lorries and coaches. We record card requests and check the card's validity. Our hotline, located in Douai, handles losses, thefts and incidents. We also develop the dematerialisation of administrative and fiscal documents through another subsidiary, Saqqarah International. We manage electronic transfers of management documents. We offer global solutions on an international level including design and mailing of fiduciary documents integrating securities. But we also strive to fight against forgery and fraud. For example, we host and manage databases that store the product numbers that are affixed to manufactured products or to their packaging. If needed, we also produce secure labels.
C : Do you plan to hire new employees and invest in new machines?
D.T. : Yes. Identity security is an evolving business sector. New skills are thus vital to integrate new media and new technologies. We also need to train our employees, to guide them in the use of new technologies. But above all we must give them hope for the future because change can be scary, no matter what the social structure is.
We will continue to invest in our industrial tool in order to integrate new technologies and provide better services. We chose to invest where investment will create value. We also disinvest, without selling our equipment.
C : What has become of the Atelier du Livre d'Art et de l'Estampe? And what solutions have been considered in order to preserve it?
D.T. : I love history and I intend to safeguard this unique heritage and make it accessible to a large audience. The Atelier du Livre d'Art et de l'Estampe is located in Douai and Ivry-sur-Seine and employs fifteen people. It produces bibliophily works and luxury products and keeps techniques such as lithography or collotype alive. The Imprimerie Nationale is nearly 500 years old, so the least we can do is take two or three years to find a way to promote this heritage and associated know-hows. With the State, private sector partners, etc… I am open to all suggestions.
Didier Trutt, Chairman and CEO of Imprimerie Nationale (the French national printing office, which also has private clients), provides details of the strong links between his company and intelligent technologies.
In what manner is Imprimerie Nationale involved with Smart technologies ?
The heart of our business is the production of personalized and secure official documents on behalf of the State: identity documents, administrative and tax documents, electronic data transfers. One of our essential areas of know-how is the integration of all kinds of security measures. To do this, we use the best Smart technologies available, supplied to us by the leading companies in this sector. It is a matter of personal satisfaction to me that the majority of these are French companies, which are among the leading players in the industry. In the light of its very long history, Imprimerie Nationale could be thought of as being somewhat removed from this high-tech world. Nothing could be further from the truth! While very proud of its history, our company participates on a daily basis in the development of cutting edge intelligent technologies.
What technologies are most used for the documents that you are responsible for producing?
Microchips are, naturally, a key element, but not the only one. In order to protect everyone's identity, we have recourse to many other technologies and techniques, both recent and older. Take biometric passports, for example: in addition to their microchip and biometric data, they incorporate special paper and inks, several layers of drawings, watermarks and holograms, sparkle effects (shiny, pearly or iridescent), color variations, ultra detailed graphics, backgrounds, micro letters… In short, they incorporate a panoply of technologies. Our knowhow in the fields of integrating, superimposing and interweaving all these elements represents the best weapon against forgery, falsification and identity theft.
Do any of Imprimerie Nationale's missions make particularly intensive use of Smart technologies?
The products produced by Imprimerie Nationale which require the highest degree of security are those that make the most use of Smart technologies. Since 2006, we have produced ten million electronic passports, one million of which were biometric. Intelligent technologies are also very much present in the identity cards of public sector employees and municipal police officers. In all, some fifteen million secure identity documents leave our factory in Douai each year. It is one of the most secure industrial sites in France, where confidentiality is a golden rule. Another less well-known application is that of tachograph cards, which act as a safety measure for lorry and bus drivers. These can be considered as a kind of black box for these vehicles. They enable very accurate recording of time spent driving, distance travelled, speed, any technical problems that may have arisen, etc..
In addition to the missions entrusted to it by the French government, the company also operates in sectors open to competition. What are its strong points in this sphere?
Examples of our activities in this area are the manufacture of identity documents for other countries, private documents (bank checks, securities and services, secure cards for businesses, etc.). Our principal competitive advantage is, naturally, our unrivalled know-how in the field of the protection and securing of documents. Another of our major strong points is in fact linked to Smart technologies, in that we are completely "agnostic" in relation to the solutions developed by private companies in the sector; this means that we never exclusively favor one technology rather than another. Our only concern is their effectiveness and suitability in relation to our client's requirements. At present, a particular technology might be considered the ultimate in security, but tomorrow it will be something else. Regardless of what new technologies arrive, we shall always be capable of incorporating them in our products.
In the light of the technological advances that will doubtless see the light of day in the years ahead, what will Imprimerie Nationale's position be?
Our know-how in the field of the protection of objects and people will evolve in tandem with growing security constraints, and also in tandem with the development of new Smart technologies. For us, they therefore represent a major accelerator for change. Whether with regard to our investments or our processes, we no longer have any need to demonstrate our capacity to adapt to ever more complex technological evolutions. I will therefore be endeavoring to strengthen our expertise as an integrator of solutions by always choosing the best technologies and those that best meet requirements at the time. Our mission is to protect what is most dear to people: their identity. We accordingly use the best technological means available to fulfill this mission.
Some would have given up, other would have called in sick, but Didier Trutt never for one instant considered beating a retreat. His new position as a printer of secure documents (cards, passports, visas, driving licences, etc.) flatters him. This giant with gentle manners is proud to associate his name to the history of this institution, which was founded in 1640 by the Cardinal de Richelieu under the name of Manufacture Royale d'Imprimerie. Five centuries later, the institution has lost its splendour. Its headquarters are located in an impersonal building in Porte Maillot, far from its cherished heritage, the Cabinet des Poinçons (Punch Room), which has been relocated to Ivry. The Imprimerie Nationale is recovering but 'the patient' is still fragile.
In 2004, the Imprimerie Nationale was on the verge of bankruptcy. Since then, it received State bailout, and was drastically reorganized by its previous CEO, who cut the workforce in three but the public company still hasn't reached levels of productivity and profitability that would ensure its sustainability. Worse still, in July, the Attorney General of Paris began a preliminary investigation for « corruption, misuse and misappropriation of company assets ». Since 2000, bribes were allegedly paid with the aim of obtaining business deals in several countries, including Romania, Senegal and Syria. Didier Trutt joined the Imprimerie Nationale on August 24th. Seven days later, while reading the newspaper, he found out about the investigation. The same day he wrote an open letter to the employees to declare that he would not opt out. Since, Didier Trutt has rolled up his sleeves to establish the Imprimerie Nationale on the very competitive market of secure products.
Strengthened at Thomson
The industrialist shared Thomson's chaotic destiny for twenty-five years and learnt a lesson from the company's failures. After leading the television market in the 1990's, the Group was exhausted by Asian competition and forced to stop its flagship activity in 2004. Didier Trutt, Head of Tube Operations, was designated to handle the painful mission of liquidating the component division.
Didier Trutt's story with the nation's pride was off to a good start. The first ten years were happy years. Sent to Singapore in 1987 and then to Bangkok, the engineer managed production in Asia. When Thomson bought Telefunken, RCA and Saba out, Didier Trutt started working six-day weeks. Him and his wife, who had become a tourist guide, visited the region during his rare holidays. Two of his children were born is Asia, the youngest was born in Paris.
Things went downhill upon his return in France. In 1996, the group, deeply in debt, came close to being sold to Daewoo for a symbolic franc. In fine Thomson Multimedia was recapitalized by the State and forced to cut costs. The Vice President of Tube Operations had to learn to rationalize; he opened factories in China and Poland and closed some in the United States. From then onwards, the group's face and perimeter constantly changed. It specialized in decoders and video equipment. From 2005 onwards, the Executive Vice President managed purchases, information systems and industrial strategy. By then the company had changed so much that its top executive managers did not even know one another. Didier Trutt even had to introduce himself at each meeting …
At the Imprimerie Nationale, Didier Trutt is not just a number: he is number one. At forty-nine, he is free at last.
Antoine Gaillard : Didier Trutt, you have recently been appointed CEO of the Imprimerie Nationale. How did the job come to you?
Didier Trutt : Through headhunting. The consultant in charge of recruitment identified several potential candidates. I then passed the various stages of a classic recruitment process. Given the particular nature of the Imprimerie Nationale's shareholder, the State, I was also interviewed by the APE (Agence des Participations de l'Etat) and by the IN's supervisory ministry, the Department of Finance. In the end, I was appointed board member of the imprimerie then chairman by the Cabinet of Ministers.
AG : Prior to joining the Imprimerie Nationale, you worked for the Thomson Group, an electronic group. Are there any similarities between electronics and printing, in particular with the Imprimerie Nationale?
Didier Trutt : Both companies evolve in a highly technologic and technical industrial sector, which is constantly changing. Consequently they have both had to become service oriented. They have had to adapt to market needs and to manage a thorough change in people and solutions. My past experience in the electronic sector helps me have a deeper understanding of the difficulties that my colleagues in the printing business have to face today.
AG : What are your first impressions as CEO of the Imprimerie Nationale?
Didier Trutt : the Imprimerie Nationale is an old company, in the best sense of the word, and a great company. It has been through some rough times and has not fully recovered. Nevertheless, the Imprimerie Nationale possesses an excellent industrial tool, its production plant in Douai, and the unique expertise of its staff. For me, the Imprimerie Nationale is more than a printing office; it is a technology and solution integrator. We work in close collaboration with companies such as Sagem, Thales and Gemalto for high-tech industrial processes that require the highest security standards. However the company's image has suffered from its social and legal difficulties. The Imprimerie Nationale has lived a revolution; it is now a high-tech company! It issues French biometric passports in record time: 100% of passports are produced and delivered in less than four days!
AG : Can you tell us a bit more about the Imprimerie Nationale?
Didier Trutt : The Imprimerie Nationale focuses on 5 core activities: fiduciary, continuous, the graphic platform (a service platform for corporate customers), heritage and a public service delegation contract to manage tachograph cards for lorries. The IN has 550 employees and an annual turnover of 130 million euros.
AG : The Imprimerie Nationale is facing a judicial investigation for corruption. What is the progress on the matter?
Didier Trutt : We do not have any information with regard to the progress of the investigation. As you know, the investigation concerns past events and employees that have, for the most part, already left the company. Export is complex and requires strict procedures in order to determine the real added value of certain middlemen. That is something I learnt while working for Thomson in Asia. Procedures have been reinforced and I pledge to ensure compliance with the company's code of ethics. The investigation is pending… Mistakes may have been made in the past, but I find it hard to believe that the company may have supported such acts.
AG : What is your roadmap for the next few months?
Didier Trutt : The Imprimerie Nationale has undergone numerous reorganizations these past few years. The time has come for reconstruction and development as a service provider. We must guide our clients with regard to their document needs, to the dematerialization and rematerialization of their documents! This will require some adjustments and some investments. It will also imply changing the way we work in some activities. The company has excellent assets, both technological and human. One should stay humble in the light of the Imprimerie Nationale's 500 years old history.
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