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Peugeot heirs go back to the grind after losing automaking business

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 07:58:00 EST

The Peugeot family has long been the largest shareholder in the company that bears its name. But PSA Peugeot Citroën – one of Europe's largest automakers – recently launched a capital campaign that saw it sell large chunks of shares to overseas investors, decreasing the Peugeot family's stake from 25.5 percent to 14.1 percent. The move meant that the Peugeots are no longer in control of Peugeot SA (PSA), so now they're looking to other interests. Like pepper grinders.

If you've ever traveled to Europe, you may have seen a Peugeot pepper grinder on the tables of finer restaurants. The Peugeot family started out making pepper grinders, coffee mills and bicycles in the early 1800s before it got into the car business, but like Volvo cars (which is owned separately from Volvo trucks) or Husqvarna motorcycles (which has nothing to do with the home appliance and power tools operations of the same name), the Peugeot pepper-grinder business has nothing to do with the automaker.

The family recently began diversifying its assets and this past June regained control of PSP Peugeot SAS, the company that makes the grinders. Now that the carmaking business is out of its hands, the family is putting its nose back to the grindstone and focusing on the peppermill operation.

According to Bloomberg, the company's new chairman Jean-Philippe Peugeot and chief executive Philippe Rapacz have a turnaround plan in place that will target medium and upscale customers with its premium pepper grinders while dropping the PSP Instruments tooling business that was loosing money.

By Noah Joseph

See also: Peugeot warms things up with new 308 GT, Peugeot reskins Exalt concept for Paris, Peugeot details 2008 DKR with 340-hp diesel [w/video].