Chapter 3

The Fascinating Mechanics of Progress

Different Challenges Require Different Training Responses

When Jean-Marie Descarpentries took charge of the Carnaud Group in the early 1980s, the French market leader in metal packaging was in a pitiful state. Turnover was stagnant, operating profits were wafer-thin, and it was making a net loss due to its hefty debt burden and high financial costs.

The corporation, which had a turnover of approximately £400m, had a stock market valuation of just £8m. The former flagship of the CGIP business empire, built around the forges of Nantes and developed among the canning plants of Concarneau, Brittany, was failing. Its ultimate fate seemed to hover between asset stripping, a lingering death, and brutal ...

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