De Meo, credited with revitalizing Seat brand, has been sidelined for nearly six months by a noncompete clause. In his absence, interim CEO Clotilde Delbos and Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard delivered a €2b cost cutting plan, leaving an overall strategy review to de Meo, who starts officially to-morrow.
De Meo addressed Renault’s employees and directors for the first time last week, delivering a talk in fluid French.
“I’ve enjoyed moving toward a challenge, whenever there’s been a brand to rebuild, a financial situation that needed to be put back on its feet and talented people to bring together,” he said. “This is a challenge that we will face as a team.”
“The Renault Group is where I got my first job after my diploma. This is the company that made it possible to fulfill my childhood dream: to work in the auto industry and to start on an international career.”
“When a customer buys a Clio or a Zoe or an Alpine, they’re actually buying French know-how and French culture,” he said. “This is an ace that we have. These French roots are at the heart of our group, and they are at the heart of the pride of our colleagues as well as the desires of our customers.”
De Meo is expected to deliver a revised strategic plan by the end of this year.
“I have already seen some wonderful products in the current range and some fantastic projects for the future, and this makes the heart of a car enthusiast like me very happy,” de Meo said.
He said he believed that Renault employees were up to dual challenge of a restructuring while coping with the pandemic. “I’m completely aware of the difficult situation that the company finds itself in today,” he said. “We need to have everyone mobilized.”