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How is the organization of Tarkett managed since the Group went public in 2013? How to foster innovation within the global leader of flooring and sports surface solutions? CEO Michel Giannuzzi and EVP Research, Innovation & Environment Anne-Christine Ayed discuss these topics in our interviews.

People, the value of a company

Michel Giannuzzi

You joined Tarkett as CEO in 2007. What were the issues that first struck you?

When I was appointed a little over 8 years ago, Tarkett was still a federation of SMEs that were all profitable, but each moved in its own way, in a very independent manner.
One of the first actions I took was to bring together the heads of each division so that we could define our common values. Since then, and after 20 acquisitions, I have persistently worked at strengthening and sharing Tarkett’s corporate culture and values.
This is a determining factor when selecting our future partners and also the key to a successful integration. I believe it is very important to foster a company-wide spirit around a shared vision and common values.

Since Tarkett went public in 2013, what has been the impact on the Group’s organisation and management?

Although we are listed on the stock market, we have kept a nimble and decentralised way of operating which is unlike the traditional model favoured by large groups. Our ambition is to avoid overbearing bureaucracy while setting up thorough procedures that allow us to maintain a degree of control. I believe it is essential that all individuals within the Group enjoy considerable autonomy and are empowered to fulfil their responsibilities.

Over the past few years, Tarkett has faced challenging macroeconomic conditions and our teams have successfully navigated these difficult times, demonstrating real business agility. My personal conviction is that our organisation has allowed us to be more responsive and resilient. Behind Tarkett are men and women - and they are the ones who create value for the company.

Since the IPO, we have been also focusing on developing investor relationships. Of course we meet regularly, but I am against the tyranny of quarterly earnings publications. We have been around for 130 years and are working towards the next 130 years, convinced that today’s strong results will enable us to invest serenely for the future.

I take pleasure in meeting and discussing with our investors.

How does Tarkett intend to create sustainable value for its clients?

Tarkett’s primary objective is to satisfy our clients. This is a fundamental aspect of our vision as a global leader, offering innovative flooring solutions and sports surfaces and generating sustainable value for our clients. To achieve this, the initial step is to identify and understand their needs. So looking beyond the type of feedback I would qualify as “conventional”, such as client satisfaction surveys, we run creative brainstorming sessions or innovation forums that provide a venue for staff members and partners to express their views on predetermined topics. Innovation – and in particular the eco-innovation steered by Anne-Christine Ayed since 2009 – is also a key lever for value creation, both for our clients and for our shareholders.


Ambitious responsible sourcing policy:

  • ESG criteria integrated to the supplier selection process; 72% of commodities sourced from providers that are

committed to meeting the principles of the UN Global Compact.

  • Support provided to help suppliers improve their CSR practices.


  • Developing global synergies to better serve action at local level.


  • Addressing regulatory issues in a proactive way and anticipating future regulatory risks when designing new




Particularly advanced HR practices:

  • Systematic induction programme for new employees including mentoring and feedback reports.
  • Employee achievements are valued through initiatives such as the Tarkett Awards.
  • Training and skill development through the new training programme launched in 2014 or via Manager@Tarkett and Talent Review initiatives.
  • Launch of a new intranet designed to foster collaboration and project management within multidisciplinary teams and to create communities.
  • Employee satisfaction surveys conducted every two years. Results are better than those of comparable peers.
  • The compatibility of both sets of corporate values and cultures is analysed in depth prior to any acquisition.



  • Sustainable development issues are very well integrated to the Group’s four-pillar strategy: purpose, people, planet and profit.
  • Quality management with an excellent track record.
  • Audits carried out on 92% of Group perimeter over the past 4 years.

Eco-design: a key pillar in our innovation strategy

Anne-Christine Ayed
EVP Research, Innovation & Environment

You joined Tarkett in 2009 as Head of Research, Innovation & Environment. How do you foster innovation within the Group?

Michel Giannuzzi is convinced that organic growth is essentially fed by innovation. He therefore chose to restructure the Research capabilities, putting innovation at the heart of the Group’s strategy. It was in this context that I was appointed EVP Research, Innovation & Environment. We created a functional unit that includes project managers, scientific experts and technicians, representing a team of around thirty people. In keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit of the company, the Group’s innovation strategy was developed and deployed globally, to involve our 180 employees dedicated to R&I.
This strategy is based on a structured innovation process that focuses on four key areas:

  • Eco-design and integrating environmental challenges at each stage of a product’s life cycle, with the view to developing a circular economy business model;
  • Modular and customized solutions that enable quick and easy installation, and that allow to create unique designs;
  • The development of new manufacturing procedures and/or enhancements in order to improve the Group’s operational excellence.

The full set of innovations developed over the past few years has been very positive for the Group, which has often been a pioneer, particularly in the field of ecoinnovation. In 2014, we launched a new service called FloorInMotion dedicated to the healthcare sector, an innovative connected smart flooring concept that is able to detect falls and trigger alerts.

Tarkett promotes its vision of a comprehensive circular economy, deploying its closed-loop circular design model, powered by the Cradle to Cradle® principles, in all its activities worldwide. Source: Tarkett

You are also responsible for environmental stewardship. Having mentioned eco-design as a key area for innovation, could you explain how Tarkett became a reference in the circular economy?

When I worked on the issue of product end-of-life at DBA (DIM Brand Apparel), I was lucky to be in contact with Michael Braungart, founder of the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) and creator of the Cradle to Cradle® concept.
Upon joining Tarkett, I thought it would be interesting to arrange a meeting between Michel Giannuzzi and Michael Braungart. Michel was immediately convinced by the rationale behind M. Braungart’s recommended approach - to the extent that eco-design has now become one of the main pillars of our innovation strategy.
When working on the design and manufacture of our products, we take great care in the choice of materials and in the responsible use of resources during our industrial operations, but we also pay close attention to how our products are used – indoor air quality, ease of installation and cleaning – and to their compliance with our “closed loop circular design” model, which ensures that our products can be recycled at end of use.

Our target for 2020 is to conduct a Cradle to Cradle® assessment on 100% of the materials used.

Our target for 2020 is to conduct a Cradle to Cradle® assessment on 100% of the materials used. Incidentally, we already have EPEA reports for over 80% of our raw materials.

These reports do not necessarily mean that our all products are virtuous from an environmental point of view.
However they do help us better understand the composition of our products so that we can work on improving
them with materials that are better for the environment and for our health.

Environmental stewardship is a major challenge. Michel Giannuzzi is prepared to allocate the necessary resources and even accept longer returns on investment in order to address issues that are considered to be key.

In the recent past, when all eyes were on carbon footprints, Tarkett always took a holistic view of sustainable
development - one which also considers the resources that are used and the impact on our health.

In this respect, Tarkett has made a strong commitment with the development of phthalate-free flooring…

Yes we are also very sensitive to issues of public health. Actually it would be hugely irresponsible for a company such as ours not to. Our products are for the main part used indoors, and consequently, they have a key role to play in air quality.

We have therefore made two major commitments. First we have multiplied efforts to develop products with very low volatile organic compound emissions. Our products’ VOC emissions are 10 to 100 times lower that the strictest standards worldwide.

Second, in 2013, we committed to deploying our phthalate-free plasticizers across our range of vinyl flooring. As early as 2009, we had launched a first range using phthalate-free plasticizers. We do not hesitate to redesign our products and find alternatives prior to the enforcement of new regulations, and thereby meet consumers’ new requirements.

For three years, 50% of our R&D resources dedicated to resilient flooring were allocated to developing phthalate- free vinyl flooring. Today’s debates over phthalates and endocrine disruptors have proven us right. Thanks to this ambitious and pioneering initiative, valued by many of our clients, we are now particularly well positioned in the market.

Source: Tarkett. Restart® by Tarkett



  • A highly innovative group, Tarkett employs over 180 people in its global research & development department, deployed in 24 application labs and its international research & innovation centre. This includes a Trend Analysis and Prospective Group whose role is to understand clients’ concerns and areas of interest. A regular pioneer in the development of new products (connected floors with the FloorInMotion concept, phthalate free flooring, and limits on VOC emissions...).
  • Client satisfaction survey conducted every two years. Over 6,300 clients surveyed.
  • Distribution strategy adapted to the different characteristics of client segments concerned and specific offer per market to meet local demands and expectations.
  • Low client concentration: the top client accounts for less than 5% of the company’s total turnover. Sales mix diversified by region.



  • In 2015, over 80% of materials were already assessed based on Cradle to Cradle® analysis principles. The Group prefers to refer to the “end of use” rather than the “end of life” cycle for its products. Collaboration with EPEA’s Michael Braungart with a view to accelerating progress on these topics.

• Leadership position in phthalate-free flooring. By 2020, all products manufactured by Tarkett will be phthalate free.
• Development of extremely low VOC emissions flooring to improve the indoor air quality.

Born in 1964, Michel Giannuzzi is a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique and Harvard Business School. He was appointed Chairman of the Board at Tarkett in September 2007, and has spent most of his career working in industry, both in France and abroad. Between 1988 and 2001, Michel Giannuzzi served in various positions within the Michelin group. After successful experiences in the French and UK production businesses, he then headed a new unit that used highly innovative technology to produce tires. He also took over the reorganisation of the European supply chain, before being appointed President of Michelin Japan. In 2001, he joined the Valeo group as Vice-President and Member of the Executive Committee, where he successively headed up the global Electric Systems and Wiper Systems businesses.

Anne-Christine Ayed, French Canadian, was appointed Executive Vice President Research, Innovation & Environment at Tarkett in 2009. She had previously held several executive management and R&D positions with Dow Chemicals, in Switzerland, Germany and in the United States. Engineer EAHP in materials sciences & plastics, she holds a PhD in Polymer Chemistry.

Download the interview of Michel Giannuzzi and Anne-Christine Ayed in pdf

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