The Sector Group came to Marseille for the dynamic industrial ecosystem and the outstanding quality of life

success story
The Sector Group came to Marseille for the dynamic industrial ecosystem and the outstanding quality of life
From right to left: Olivier de Blois, the President of Sector Group, Jean-François Barbet, the company’s founder, and Mathieu Lepareux, the General Manager.
16 March 2023 / Eco-industries, Energy, invest in provence

The risk management consulting firm Sector Group has a double success story: a smooth business takeover and a fast-growing new location in Provence

The French engineering company Sector Group, which is specialized in risk management and the resilience of infrastructure and equipment, has enjoyed a successful launch of its new offices in the Aix-Marseille metro area thanks to a joint support program offered by the Provence Promotion and risingSUD economic development agencies. The company’s success is based on its commitment to improving technical and financial performance as well as its dedication to the ecological and energy transition of industry.

Founded in the Paris area in 1990 by Jean-François Barbet, in January 2023 the Sector Group was taken over by Olivier de Blois and Mathieu Lepareux, who respectively serve as President and General Manager of the company. In 2021, Sector Group opened offices in Marseille, which means it now has a broad network of agencies in France, Morocco, and Canada. The company was attracted to Aix-Marseille for a number of reasons, including the historically powerful industrial sector in Fos-sur-Mer, the thriving ecosystem of tech companies, and the renowned quality of life in Provence.

As industrial companies are faced with the challenges of reindustrialization as well as current national concerns about the sovereignty of industrial supplies, the Sector Group provides project support to their clients so they can better manage risks, operate with greater confidence, and design systems that are safer for both people and the environment. With nearly 200 employees, the SME offers leading expertise in areas such as carbon emissions, sustainability studies, functional analysis for risk management, complex systems engineering, cybersecurity, and eco-design. Thanks to the Sector Group’s services, companies can improve the performance of their systems and easily meet international safety standards and environmental requirements.

“As an independent consultant firm, the Sector Group assists in the implementation of complex engineering and production projects. It was very important for us to be in Aix-Marseille and to be close to our clients in this area during this period of industrial transformation. The region’s dynamic nuclear, energy, transport, and chemical sectors are conducive to our growth, and we have all the right conditions to attract engineers looking for a better quality of life,” explains Olivier de Blois, the President of the company.

The Sector Group’s headquarters are located on the Plateau de Saclay about 20 kilometers south of Paris, which is considered the French Silicon Valley. The company was assisted in its search for a new location in the South of France by risingSUD and Provence Promotion. After several real estate visits, they chose offices on the Avenue du Prado in the 8th arrondissement of Marseille that are close to public transportation and the sea. “We wanted an appealing environment, and this location perfectly matched the expectations of our employees. Our team, which currently consists of ten people, is expected to double in the next year and a half,” says Olivier de Blois, who has already launched a recruitment campaign in the area.

In recognition of its successful move to the Aix-Marseille metro area, the Sector Group received an Invest in Provence award during a ceremony on January 16, 2023.

Sector Group’s growth prospects in Aix-Marseille

The Sector Group, which generated annual revenues of close to €12 million in 2022, focuses on several sectors that are well-established in the Aix-Marseille-Provence metro area. "In the nuclear sector, we have been working for several years with the ITER fusion project, the CEA Cadarache energy center, and EDF DIPDE, which produces engineering studies for the French nuclear fleet. We also collaborate with stakeholders in civil, defense, and space aeronautics and have contributed to a self-driving shuttle project in the region," explains Olivier de Blois, who is now aiming to conquer new markets from the company’s base in Marseille.

To help Sector Group better prepare for its new working environment in Provence, Gayané Shahinyan, Provence Promotion’s Inward Investment Advisor for Logistics and Services, gave Olivier de Blois a business intelligence presentation with key details about the metro area’s economic landscape. She also suggested meetings with potential partners, such as the SAFE aeronautics cluster, the Secured Communicating Solutions cluster, and the Capenergies energy cluster. Provence Promotion continues to support the company as it pursues its medium-term goal of opening a local office in Aix-en-Provence.

A business acquisition coupled with an ambitious CSR project

In line with its mission to make systems safer for people and the environment, and in keeping with the ethics of its founder — Jean-François Barbet, one of the leading figures in the field of operational safety in France — the new directors of Sector Group have launched a comprehensive project to expand the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives with a team of six internal volunteers. An assessment of the Sector Group’s CSR performance was conducted in July 2022 by EcoVadis, a French unicorn that has become a global leader in business sustainability rankings. This first assessment was a success, with the Sector Group being awarded a bronze medal for its sustainable management approach. Now the company’s goal is to work towards earning the silver and gold medals.

The Sector Group is building an even brighter future that will be shaped by the humanistic and progressive vision of its two new managers, with support from the company’s original founder, Jean-François Barbet, who is still in charge of R&D and innovation. The handover of the company was a smooth three-year process with banking support that enabled a leveraged buyout in the form of a Buy-In Management Buyout that integrated new shareholder-managers along with existing company executives. The Sector Group’s objective is to continue strengthening its position as a leading expert in major French industrial projects and export strategies while doubling its volume of business over the next three years.