It is impossible to not remember Hubert Varlet! He was born on February 27, 1946 in Paris. After graduating from Sup de Co Paris and Insead, he met Michèle, whom he married in 1969 before leaving for the Ivory Coast the following year to do his military service. In 1971 he joined the export department of the BSN Group and later became Commercial Director of the Bottle Division. He stayed in office twenty years. 1971 is also the year when, the Pochet Group, under the impulse of the two sons of Charles Colonna de Giovellina, Henri and Jean, dared take the shift of modernity by deciding to build, in the French site of Guimerville, a fully automated line for the production of glass bottles. The investment represented at the time, one year of turnover. The encounter between the Colonna family and Hubert Varlet eventually took place 14 years later.
Hence in 1985, the Colonna family who had immediately recognized the exceptional commercial skills of this man with a strong personality all agreed on the fact they had to convince Hubert to join the Pochet team. This was done a few months later on October 1st, 1985! Thereafter, the story of the Pochet Group is the proof that they were right. From this complicity and complementarity emerged, exponentially, with the support of a team of motivated collaborators and technicians, what became the world reference for luxury bottles. Hubert Varlet stay in the Group for 27 years and "Uncle Hubert" will in no time become a member of the family. In 50 years, he will have worked for two companies only...
"He had the knack for relationships!"
"It was certainly the finest example of sheer commercial talent one could dream of," explained Irène Gosset, now President of the Group and daughter of Henri Colonna de Giovellina. "Relentlessly, Hubert travelled the world and build, as only he knew how, very close and personal relationships with customers. He and Gabriel Colonna, son of Henri, who joined the Group in 1983 will form a winning pair. Many customers who knew him well admitted that it was a real privilege to do business with him". In a nutshell, "he had the knack for relationships!" "What was fantastic about him, was his ability to not talk straightforwardly with a customer of the reason why he was actually visiting him, (i.e., to sell him bottles), but to focus more on the evolution of the global market and of the retail sector that he knew like the back of his hand. He spoke on an equal footing with the Presidents of the world’s leading beauty brands. But, in the end, he sold much more than just bottles. He was promoting the Pochet Group and its excellence. He knew the market better than anyone," was keen to point out Thierry de la Fléchère, former Sales Manager for France.
During these 27 years of collaboration, the Pochet Group changed a lot. The strategy of internationalization, focused more particularly on the United States, Brazil and Asia, and which was initiated by the Colonna family as early as the 1970s, was quickly taken over and managed by Hubert Varlet. Hence the Group entered the very closed circle of world glassmakers capable of achieving the most astonishing prowess and of taking up the biggest technical challenges. Challenges that no one was afraid of in the Group, including of course Hubert. He was also instrumental in Pochet’s decision to diversify in 1991 in the plastic processing sector with the creation of Qualipac, and by reinforcing this business unit through additional acquisitions or creations, such as Priminter, Qualipac’s two Chinese sites, Qualiform, IPEL in Brazil, Lisi Cosmetics. "But on the other hand, being late at a meeting was not an option and even less of having not worked sufficiently on the agenda of the meeting. No one was more punctual and demanding than Hubert! He always wanted to get to the bottom of things and he had the knack for saying the right words at the right time,” clearly remembered Thierry de la Fléchère.
"In terms of interpersonal skills, Hubert was the king! He was flamboyant! But he knew how to put himself in the position of his interlocutors," explained Isabelle Lallemant, Group Marketing and Innovation Director. "I remember the day when we received an award at Luxe Pack Monaco for our CSR approach. He managed to convincingly talked Prince Albert of Monaco into visiting the stand of the Group he then immediately took him to."
“Hubert was very Pochet!”
"Unquestionably, he impressed people with his charisma," highlighted Astrid Rutkowski Mauduit who spent some 17 years in the Pochet Group before creating her own cosmetic brand. "What was striking about him was that he could be both very demanding and benevolent with his colleagues. A commercial meeting with Hubert always took the form of a ritual gathering where personal failure was not an option. But his great strength was also his ability to listen to his colleagues and of course to customers.”
"Eventually ‘Hubert was very Pochet’ or it was ‘Pochet who was very Hubert’. As you know, Customer Commitment became one of the Group’s four cardinal virtues. We have made it a strategic priority for our development,” said Irène Gosset, President of the Group. "The history of Pochet is one of unwavering commitment for the success of our customers. It cannot be denied that it is under his impetus that we now have a customer-centric organization, with a dense network of contact points thanks to which we are able to meet very different requests by providing tailor-made answers."
Concerning the Pochet Group’s other cardinal virtues, which are described at length in its corporate charter, and can fully apply to Hubert Varlet... That of Excellence first, with a capital "E" where Hubert Varlet, like the Group, made a point of standing out through the absolute quality of its achievements and the uniqueness of its know-how, at the crossroads of art and industry. That of Customer Commitment, which we already talked about. That of Consideration, which is a strong term, it’s a mixture of respect, esteem and benevolence that reflects our vision of the Group and of the world. Aware that the Group owes its success to the involvement of everyone, Hubert Varlet, like the Group, wanted employees to feel listened to, and valued in their work.
So he left us on a 1st of August. There were many people attending the Mass given in his memory, end of September in Paris, France.