Do you know Thibault Wéry, the CEO of Cerdá?

9 February 2021 / por Cerdá Group

This is a section titleBorn the year of the World Cup in Mexico, in Brussels, Belgium. The eldest brother in a family of 4 children. He graduated in Human Resources Management from the Free University of Brussels.

Passionate about sports. What's more, throughout all these years he has practiced many of them: from tennis or table tennis, to cycling or running. But without a doubt, the sport to which he has devoted the most time and affection is swimming (as a student and a teacher!).

In addition, he was a boy scout for many years and says that it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful experiences he's ever had, and that it was a fundamental pillar of his teaching of human and ethical values.

Thibault arrived in Spain by chance (or should we say love?), accompanying who he is now lucky enough to call his wife, so that she could finish her medical studies. Now they are the parents of two beautiful children, Júlia and Pol, with whom he confesses that they really enjoy themselves.

I would describe myself as a passionate and hardworking person. I'm not interested in accolades, but I'm excited about challenges. I love achieving big goals, which are always the result of a collective effort. I've always really liked working with people and being able to lead projects. I have an intrapreneur profile. On a project, I love proposing new ideas and innovations to contribute and further develop the business.

How long have you been General Manager at Cerdá?

I have had the pleasure of leading the company for 5 years. However, my collaboration with Cerdá started in 2011, just 10 years ago. I worked for what is now my company as a consultant for 5 years with considerable intensity throughout the entire period to finally join in April 2016.

It's funny because when I joined the staff and the company, I already knew everyone and even down to the smallest details of the company. Thanks to this, my incorporation was fast, and I was able to get to work from day one.

What would a normal day be like as General Manager at Artesanía Cerdá?

In the morning, I like to call a family member on the way to work or listen to music. I confess that from time to time I also enjoy listening to podcasts that talk about parenting to train me in my role as a father. This is ongoing training!

I would honestly say that there is no routine in a Management job as there is in other positions, but I will try to tell you what I usually do:

First, I do a tour around the offices to greet the workers. I always take the opportunity to talk with several colleagues to find out how they are or comment on a specific topic.

Then, once I'm in my office, I usually update my main dashboards to check billing, order book and financial data. These data allow me to gauge the last few days and the workload of the following days in just 10 minutes.

Afterwards, I like to take a quick tour of the warehouse and take stop in front of the preps that day to review which customers they are addressed to. I take this opportunity to greet all the staff in this part of the facilities and discuss different aspects such as workloads, incidents, and ongoing projects, among others, with the management team.

For the rest of the day, I generally hold several meetings with members of the company about projects we have underway, new collections, sales, digital marketing, process improvement... Obviously, I am immersed in all the major projects of the company, either supervising them or leading them. In my specific case, I also personally direct the Digital Business and Human Resources departments.

I also like to look and contrast the headlines of 4 or 5 newspapers a couple of times a day to find out the latest news from our main markets, never more than 5-10 minutes. When I want to delve into a topic that has caught my attention, I look for a space either at night or at noon.

On the way back home, which takes about 50 minutes, I always take the opportunity to call to the sales team, company directors, or other employees. So, I take advantage of downtime to connect and manage many issues every day.

At night, I always try to rest and recharge my batteries to replenish the intensity and dedication that my position requires and to give my best.

Outside of work, what are your hobbies or what do you do to disconnect?

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I really like cooking, Belgian beers and chocolate.

I am also passionate about raising my children. It is a pleasure to see how they grow every day and to try to do the best so that they develop happily and independently. Lately, and encouraged by my wife, we've been immersed in the whole philosophy of respectful parenting, Montessori, etc. In the end, everything you have to learn is amazing! Being a father is also about studying, improving, setting goals, innovating.

Finally, sports… I have little time, but I like to go for a run and do exercise with my personal trainer.

  • Book of the moment: Lean Start-up.
  • Song of the moment: “Show yourself” from Frozen 😉.
  • Movie/Series of the moment: The Mandalorian

What do you like most about working at Cerdá?

I particularly like the mix of various aspects that make Cerdá an incredible company to work for and develop personally and professionally:

  • A humane and honourable ownership. This aspect is essential in a family business where ownership always tends to have a lot of impact. In our case, we are lucky to have owners with great human values and who are also very hard-working people.
  • A very dedicated and innovative team. The company culture is incredibly special because we are not afraid of failure. We innovate, test and experiment with joy and an entrepreneurial spirit. There is a culture of intrapreneurship and innovation that I have seldom seen in other companies.
  • The company offers particularly good conditions at the level of conciliation and flexibility. There is also a large investment in training for professionals and first-class facilities. Working at Cerdá is enjoyable and challenging at the same time. People are highly trusted, and this translates into effective delegation of many projects and responsibilities. 
  • A sector and products that are cool! We work with big brands such as Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Warner. Whether you like it or not, it makes you even more passionate about the project. And if you have children, you can't imagine.

In all these years, what would be the achievement or success that you are most proud of within the company?

I am immensely proud of the professionalisation of the Cerdá group.

From the offices to the organisation chart, to the product catalogue, processes, team management. We have modernised all aspects of the company and have succeeded in creating enormously powerful product and service proposals.

Today, we have powerful offers in various product families, various end customer targets (baby, infant, tween, adult and pets), and we offer vastly different services depending on what our customers need.

We have made enormous changes in just a few years, while keeping the values intact but evolving the company at great speed. I think we can be happy with the work done in the last 5 years. We've designed a perfect structure to scale and face enormous growth in the coming years.

How has the team evolved?

The team has matured a lot over the last few years. Me too, as a matter of fact.

I am very happy with the evolution achieved because today we have great professionals in all positions. Incredible people who put a lot of passion into their work and are very committed to achieving the objectives of the company.

One of the aspects that I would highlight the most would be the degree of emotional maturity of a large part of the team. We can say things openly, with sincerity and transparency, and so discuss what works and what doesn't, as well as the strengths and areas for improvement of each professional. Furthermore, throughout this period we have provided the company with a people management system to rival that of large companies. Our “feedback culture” is taking root little by little thanks to tools and developments such as performance evaluations, one-to-ones, etc.

The team must strive to continue to improve constantly, and we still have great challenges ahead such as improving our efficiency, being more self-demanding or improving certain processes in order to offer exceptional customer service.

I think part of success lies in never being complacent and always wanting to be better.

How would you describe 2020 in Cerdá? What are the main measures that you consider have made Cerdá one of the best positioned companies today?

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2020 was a very intense year at all levels. We had planned to achieve significant growth by investing a lot in people, tools and the development of innovative proposals. But March came... And everything was more complicated than necessary.

We spent a few extremely hard months riding with the regulatory changes like waves and trying to help our clients as much as possible. We gave constant support, flexibility in all pending payments, we organised webinars... We try to do what we do best: treat our clients as members of the Cerdá family, who we always care about and we were, more than ever, by their side.

After the most difficult months, and with the reopening of the stores throughout Europe, we gained momentum and began to work very actively.

Thanks to the different services offered by the company (special productions, permanent stock collections, and a powerful value proposition for online sales professionals) we generated a lot of business.

Our results don't come overnight but are the result of many years working to position the company as one of the leaders in the sector at the digital level, as well as having a more than attractive and truly powerful product offering.

I think that right now, no one in Europe has a similar range of products on offer to ours (Textiles, Backpacks and bags, Footwear, Accessories and complements, Pets, Beauty…). I am very satisfied with the results of these years of growth and development and with the product portfolio that we have today.

The value-added services that we provide based on the needs of each business are also key. I believe that Artesanía Cerdá has a powerful and very profitable proposal for all distribution professionals.

We must not forget all our partners within this sector such as The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros, Viacom, Universal, MGA... Without a doubt, they are key to our business, and it is a real pleasure for us to work with their respective teams. Apart from being made up of great professionals, they are part of our business and help us to develop better products and proposals and are always open to creating together.

There are still many challenges that we must face, and if you don't do your homework or if you don't reinvent yourself every day, it is exceedingly difficult to remain competitive over time. I believe that we work with the ideal attitude to foster this continuous improvement and to maintain this hunger to learn and develop the business.

What went through your mind when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out worldwide? Did you expect it to reach such a dimension after the first outbreaks in China?

Since the end of 2019, we were already very aware of the situation, observing it with concern due to what we saw and heard from our office in Xiamen.

We didn't know how it was going to impact us at the sales level, but we were genuinely concerned at the purchasing level. We'd already anticipated significant delays by certain Asian suppliers, involving shipments of summer merchandise and back to school in 2020, but honestly, we would never have imagined what eventually happened in Europe.

How has the pandemic impacted Cerdá's different customer profiles?

The impact of Covid on our customers has obviously been immense, although totally asymmetrical.

Depending on the sector or type of business, the impact has been hugely different. For example, during lockdown online customers grew more than 800%, many of them ended up doubling or tripling their sales in 2020 VS 2019.

On the other hand, physical stores (especially in Spain and Italy) have suffered a lot since the beginning of March 2020. In general, in shopping centres accumulated drops have been 30-40% compared to the sales of the previous year, while in high street stores the drops have been smaller.

In other countries, the impacts have been quite different due to both the impact of the pandemic, closures or different lockdowns, and government measures aimed at helping businesses.

Here in Spain, many people have been saved thanks to ICO loans, but in the end, they only generate greater debt from companies or freelancers.

And to what extent has it affected the company's workers?

The pandemic has affected everyone in a big way, although obviously with quite different effects depending on the personal circumstances of each one.

The office team began working from home on 16th March. The truth is that it didn't involve any difficulties at all, thanks to the fact that we had everything ready to start this way of working to help reconcile work and family life. However, I would like to highlight the enormous professionalism of the entire team, who were very committed to the company and never let their intensity drop. In certain departments this change has led to a revolution such as Sales, where you're not able to visit customers and having businesses closed. Just imagine!

Thanks to the company's team and a common effort, we were able to finish 2020 without layoffs or ERTES.

In fact, except for the months of March, April and May (which were extremely hard), in the following months, we were breaking all-time records in terms of turnover or new order generation.

I can only be grateful and very proud of the whole team. They have been generous in their efforts, committed and hard-working. It is a privilege to lead such a group in these circumstances. I think there is a lot of cohesion and great respect between everyone, be they owners, workers or management.

How does 2021 look for Cerdá? Any developments you can share?

2021 is a year with high expectations for us. We have proposed more than significant growth--above 25%.

In fact, we are currently looking to recruit 10 new professionals with different profiles to join the project in the coming weeks.

In the same way, we will continue to invest in our digital strategy, both in the sales part and in processes and tools.

We work daily to improve our main Textile, Backpacks and Footwear product families. This year will also be incredibly special because of the new lines that we have already introduced, and which will be further developed in the coming months. I'm talking about Beauty and accessories and Pets. We have new lines coming out that everyone will be talking about!

Our aim is to offer our customers the best possible product and support services we can provide. More than ever, in 2021 Cerdá will be working with them hand in hand.

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