Trace One CEO Placement

Case Study

Trace One Chief Executive Officer

Client: Trace One 
Role: Chief Executive Officer 
Ownership: HG Capital
Partner: Simon Buirski


Trace One is a €35 million, Paris-based SaaS business serving the retail industry.

Trace One is a €35 million, Paris-based SaaS business serving the retail industry. The business operates a SaaS PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) platform allowing retailers to develop and exchange private label product specifications with their suppliers. It is the global leader in this segment serving 30 of the leading global retailers, including Walmart, Walgreens and Supervalue in the US; Carrefour, Casino and Auchan in France and Sainsburys and M&S in the UK.


Hg Capital acquired Trace One from its founder, who moved to a non-executive role. On an interim basis, one of the firm’s Operating Partners acted as Executive Chairman but the investors were keen to identify as quickly as possible, a stage-appropriate, internationally-minded CEO from the enterprise software world, ideally with experience in the retail space.

How Lancor Helped: The Search

Lancor has worked across the Private Equity market for many years and brings deep expertise in the software industry. Having understood the investment thesis and the key requirements of the role, our first move was to examine the pool of CEO-experienced candidates and those ready to take on their first CEO positions. Experience in the French market was critical and in addition to looking at candidates currently leading businesses in France, we quickly covered the market across Europe and in the US for executives with past French experience. Three finalists stood out. One of whom, Christophe Vanackere, quickly emerged as the preferred candidate.

Christophe started his career at Lectra, a world leader in product lifecycle management solutions, where he quickly became Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and South America. He was a key driver behind the international growth of Sage, a provider of business management software, first as Chief Operating Officer, then as the Managing Director for Europe. Most recently, Christophe held the position of Managing Director for France at the enterprise applications company Unit 4.

The search took 83 days from start to finish.


“As with many software companies, the main asset at Trace One is its people. The biggest challenge with this search was to rapidly find a new CEO who would be accepted by the team whilst reinventing the company under this new ownership. Lancor understood the challenge and Christophe has met both our expectations and goals. In his first full year, the focus has been on longer-term growth, including new product launches, a revised commercial strategy, identification of cross-selling opportunities and operational changes to support growth and scalability. At the same time, revenues have increased and EBITDA grew 51% (2017).”
- Bertrand Sciard, Executive Chairman | Trace One