The collective catering group Sodexo, a global giant in its sector, announced the death of its founder and honorary president Pierre Bellon, Monday in Paris, at the age of 92. Pierre Bellon was a builder, an entrepreneur who started from scratch, became a billionaire by inventing company catering: in the 1960s, in Marseille, this HEC graduate had the good idea of delivering meal trays on boats, and in companies. He develops the activity in communities, hotels, air transport, before emphasizing personal services. A dazzling success for this man with the cheekiness of the South, and with memorable anger. This patriarch makes Sodexo a juggernaut, listed on the stock exchange, while keeping the majority of the capital in the hands of the family. Today, the group has 400,000 employees worldwide and a turnover of more than 20 billion euros.
Sodexo is present everywhere: in school canteens, retirement homes, hospitals, universities… More than half a century after its creation, the group serves 100 million consumers every day. Abroad, Sodexo is present in more than 56 countries, going so far as to serve, for example, the US Navy. In addition to collective catering, Sodexo has also diversified considerably and now offers cleaning, security, upkeep of green spaces and even building maintenance services, while also developing gift vouchers and meal vouchers.
The group has suffered a lot because of the pandemic. Confinements and the development of teleworking have caused the collective catering activity to fall. In 2020, Sodexo lost 315 million euros. Never seen. The company had to cut 50,000 jobs, including 2,000 in France. Since then, the accounts have recovered a little, and are back in the green, but the crisis has left its mark, and Sodexo must adapt to the new work habits of employees, invent a new model.
If the disappearance of Pierre Bellon is certainly a page that turns for the French flagship, it will not change much in its daily management,
because Pierre Bellon had left his position as CEO in 2005 and he had let go of the chairmanship of the board of directors in 2016, passing the torch to his daughter, Sophie Bellon.