FACT OF THE DAY D&S Groupe, a Bagnolese success story

FACT OF THE DAY D&S Groupe, a Bagnolese success story
FACT OF THE DAY D&S Groupe, a Bagnolese success story

The D&S Groupe company, based in Bagnols, celebrated its twentieth anniversary this Friday in Avignon (Vaucluse). The opportunity to draw the portrait of a company that started from scratch or almost in 2004, and which today has 400 employees and a turnover of 29 million euros.

When in March 2004 Benoît Marc founded D&S, “he wanted to stay alone, and I arrived as an apprentice to help him”, replays his nephew Julien Feja, the CEO of D&S Groupe. At the time, just an adult, he was at the École des Mines de Saint-Étienne, and joined his uncle in the company for a three-year work-study program. “The theme of my work-study program was ‘becoming a business manager’”, he remembers with a smile. In retrospect, the one who took over from Benoît Marc as CEO in 2016 and repeats that he did not “never learned how to manage a company at school, but on the job”did not do too badly in this alternation.

Julien Feja, 38 years old, CEO of D&S Groupe • Photo: Thierry Allard

Because in the meantime, it is an understatement to say that the company has developed, and the group now brings together seven independent companies in as many professions, “90% in nuclear power and 10% in petrochemicals, with our activity for industrial sites at risk”specifies the CEO: sanitation-dismantling, design office, quality support and risk management, training, protective equipment and even asbestos removal.

And “each company has its manager who is a shareholder of the company”, specifies Julien Feja. A model which makes it say that, rather than an ETI (an intermediate-sized company), D&S Groupe is more “a large SME of seven companies united, with common values: independence, remaining technically a specialist, an internal culture of always improving, responsiveness, proximity, individual relationships. » Fact, “each company has 30 to 50 employees, when our competitors in our markets are companies with sometimes several thousand employeeshe elaborates. We are small compared to the markets, but our critical size still allows us to land good contracts. » In fact, D&S counts EDF, the CEA, Orano, Bouygues, Vinci and Sanofi among its clients. Sorry!

“Grow in a controlled manner”

The fact remains that the group went from around 80 employees at the end of 2015 to 200 in 2020 then 400 today spread across nine agencies, and achieved a turnover of 29 million euros in 2023, with a target for 2024 at 32 .5 million euros. “It’s organic growth, we’re not necessarily looking to be ever bigger, we want to grow in a controlled way”, asks Julien Feja. The company, which created fifty positions in 2023, is on the same trajectory for 2024. And again, “we are hampered by the lack of HR resources”, tempers Julien Feja, while the chronic lack of candidates to work in the industry remains a major subject in the sector. So D&S is forced, like many of its counterparts, not to respond to all the markets to which it could aspire, due to a lack of arms and well-made heads.

Nothing to hinder the growth of D&S, however: “We plan to double the training to move towards non-nuclear”, indicates the CEO of the group, while a purchase of a training center in the Rhone Gard will very soon be formalized. Furthermore, D&S Groupe plans to develop in La Hague, an important nuclear hub, “to continue our controlled and organic growth”, comments Julien Feja. More globally, “we have a seven-year plan to double our number of employees”, he announces. It’s a lot, “but it’s less than from 2016 to now”, he recalls. Especially now that nuclear power has regained good prospects, notably with the EPR2 projects and small modular reactors, SMRs.

D&S is still considering this growth from Bagnols. “I was born in Bagnols, I live there, and we have Marcoule next door”, says the young 38-year-old business leader, just above the average age of the company’s workforce, which is 34 years old. So Julien Feja affirms it: “We’re gone for twenty years.”

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