Interview with Franck RETTMEYER, Chairman & CEO ALLIMAND


The ALLIMAND Group, designer and manufacturer of paper machines for the paper industry, reports a record order backlog after a subdued second half of 2014. The Commercial Team and ALLIMAND Research & Development took up the challenge to develop a dynamic development strategy. Meanwhile, a major training device, strongly supported by the state, was set up with its staff. Six months later, ALLIMAND faces a backlog of the best years in its history! Focus…

Mr RETTMEYER, the company ALLIMAND went through a slow down period in the last quarter of last year. So how do you explain that ALLIMAND exports more than 85% of its production and carries this know-how on into the 6th generation…?

Yes, we had an activity almost satisfactory until July 2014, and then from September 2014 to January 2015 our business was lower than our production capacity. This period was not negative because we took the opportunity to launch an extensive training plan.

What were the conditions of the training plan?

This is the DIRRECTE, Regional Department of Enterprise, Competition, Consumption, Labour and Employment, which strongly supported us in conducting this training plan AME * for all our voluntary staff. A total of 70 people of all categories: production operators, Design Department technicians, administrative employees and the company executives, have benefited from training to meet the needs of the Company: information technology, languages, risk analysis, papermaking process management, welding, programming numerical control machine-tools, handling, adaptation, skills development, etc.

What was the amount of the training budget?

112,000 €. I would especially like to thank Ms Chantal LUCCHINO, Head of Service to the economic mutation DIRRECTE, who granted us her confidence. In return, of course, we have not made any redundancies.

Can you explain why the end of 2014 was difficult for ALLIMAND?

Customers had fewer projects, the economic slowdown in Europe continued, growth remained slow and so our customers invested less. In addition, they face the development of electronic communication and must adapt. Some have stopped their production capacities, others thought about transforming their equipment or have diversified to other kinds of paper such as packaging or paper with very high added value.

At ALLIMAND, we used this time to develop a very intensive business development plan and the work paid off! We won two significant orders early 2015, 2 technical paper machines in China, and 1 machine with high added value for a high profile institution in France, finally, modifications of existing machines in France, Germany, Great Britain, Tunisia, Czech Republic, etc.

Commercially, you have also opened a new office in Shanghai in 2014, haven’t you?

Yes, for this new site, the controls are significant and I want to emphasize the rapid repercussions for ALLIMAND and success of our commercial teams.

Did the year 2014 remind you of the period you crossed during the international crisis of 2009?

No, this one was very different. It corresponded with the introduction of a new strategy of our customers, who dragged out their decision making from the end of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015.

What lessons do you draw from this experience?

Well, a company like ALLIMAND, SME specialized in heavy capital goods, is always dependent on the international market. This has been the case for many years! I also want to emphasize that the current policy of the European Central Bank is an excellent policy! The Euro is very competitive, which allows us to be attractive and export abroad. I remain convinced that the support of banks should allow Europe to resume growth at the beginning of 2016-2017.

In addition, we have just taken an order for a paper machine to be installed on French soil! I would especially like to thank the prestigious institution that put their trust in us.

Moreover, we took advantage of this time to raise the level of our teams’ skills through a heavy investment of over one million euros which affects the entire organisation of the company (ERP / PLM**). The objective is to enable us to optimise the management of the company, launch orders, development and monitoring.

In conclusion, it’s “all systems go” for a few years…?

Yes, for at least 18 months. All systems go, the activity is very strong and we are making the most of this time to consolidate our new organisation, namely the integration of our new office in Shanghai in ALLIMAND’s organisation and the launch of new products on the market.

I am a happy CEO! I’m happy that the company’s evolution is taking a turn for the better. I thank all the staff for having taken up the challenge! ALLIMAND will more than double its turnover in 2015 and faces a backlog of the best years in its history to surpass the first quarter of 2015, 72 million Euros.

* AME : Support for economic change. The AME’s approach uses methods of anticipation or accompaniment in modifications and evolutions (Commitments related to employment and skills development, assistance in employment and skills preliminary management consultancy, FNE-Training) which are integrated into a united and simplified framework. Source:

** ERP/PLM: Enterprise Resource Planning / Product Lifecycle Management