By Cindy Macdonald
During PaperWeek Canada in February, Suzanne Blanchet outlined recent changes at Cascades, a Quebec-based manufacturer of tissue and packaging. The company now sits at 11,000 employees and 90 units, from a high of more than 12,000 employees at 110 units.
Blanchet is senior vice-president, corporate development. She noted that Cascades’ management team has made a strategic decision to focus on packaging and tissue. In recent years the company has divested its Canadian boxboard assets and fine paper mills. Between 2011 and 2015, Cascades closed 15 plants and shed 6 assets. The focus now, said Blanchet, is on strengthening the company’s presence in Europe, continued cost reduction and an IT upgrade.
She noted that the company’s strategic plan is to modernize its core business, optimize capital allocation, and innovate. The Lemaire brothers, the founders of Cascades, were manufacturing-driven, and liked to buy equipment, Blanchet said. In contrast, the current CEO, Mario Plourde, has more of a tendency to modernize.
Blanchet recounted how Cascades is in the midst of centralizing and standardizing its administration. The company is implementing SAP, which she described as a rigorous framework that has helped to put standardized procedures and processes in place. “Cascades was very decentralized,” said Blanchet. Now, the company has a centralized procurement plan and supply chain. “Shared services is a big plus,” she said, but it required a huge shift in company culture.