Builder’s Merchant STARK Successfully Manages Carve-out in Record Time

STARK Deutschland GmbH is a well-known builder’s merchant with eleven successful specialist retailers and brands, including generalists such as Raab Karcher and specialists such as the tile retailer Keramundo and the civil engineering supply company Muffenrohr. More than 6,000 employees at over 260 branches generate annual revenues of around EUR 2.5 billion.

Man wearing a red helmet working, building a wall from bricks.

Since March 2021, STARK Deutschland GmbH, which formerly belonged to the French Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, has been part of the international STARK Group, which is headquartered in Copenhagen and operates in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Greenland.

Portrait of Dirk Scheffler, CIO at STARK Deutschland

Dirk Scheffler
CIO at STARK Deutschland

”We wouldn't have been able to handle our IT transition project without INTARGIA.“

Portrait of Dirk Scheffler, CIO at STARK Deutschland

Dirk Scheffler
CIO at STARK Deutschland

”It was only possible with many weekend shifts. In the end, everything went well.“

Portrait of Stephan Herteux, Principal at INTARGIA – a valantic company

Stephan Herteux
Principal at INTARGIA – a valantic company

”We have an experienced team specializing in M&As with exactly the skills needed to handle carve-out projects very well and successfully.“

Close up of hand of businessman using calendar on laptop computer

The challenges


Full migration of the IT infrastructure, baseline services and 5,000 clients

As part of its strategic realignment, the French parent company Saint-Gobain sold the builder’s merchant – then Saint-Gobain Building Distribution – to the Scandinavian STARK Group. CIO Dirk Scheffler and his 5,000 employees were faced with the formidable challenge of carving out the company’s entire IT infrastructure plus 5,000 clients from Saint-Gobain’s central IT platform and getting it to stand on its own feet. Saint-Gobain set a deadline of 10 to a maximum of 12 months to separate out the entire IT, after which the former owner wanted to pull the plug on it. It soon became clear to Dirk Scheffler and his team that a full carve-out could not be successfully mastered without a strong and experienced partner at their side.

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Solutions & results in detail

The digital transformation and management consultancy INTARGIA – a valantic company – prepared a carve-out concept and split the entire transmigration project into three main phases. In phase one, INTARGIA and STARK Deutschland GmbH defined the target architecture and future service providers. Phase two consisted of the carve-out of the entire IT. In phase three, the two partners focused on the intensified user support requirements and on improving cyber security. With the entire project team numbering more than 100 employees, the transition project was successfully completed ahead of schedule. The services provided by INTARGIA in detail:

  • Preparation of a carve-out concept including the target environment (future mode of operations) and a delivery sourcing concept
  • Preparation and conducting of the service provider selection process plus multi-stakeholder management
  • Assumption of responsibility for managing the entire transition project (project management, program management) under intense time pressure – from preparation and detailed concept development to the backend migrations, client migration and adaptation of service processes
  • Relocation of the entire IT including SAP ERP from the data centers in Paris and Montpellier to the new service provider’s data center in Frankfurt/Main
  • Migration / renewal of the IT infrastructure such as servers, storage and backup, baseline IT services and business applications
  • Physical rollout of 5,000 client computers at 250 locations in Germany
  • Establishment of new IT processes and improvement of the IT security
Picture of a group of people in a conversation situation

Transmigration project mastered faster than planned

In 2019, the French parent company Saint-Gobain sold its “Saint-Gobain Building Distribution” unit to the Scandinavian STARK Group as it no longer fitted into the French company’s growth strategy. This was the beginning of an exciting but also challenging time for CIO Dirk Scheffler and his team. The management in Paris informed the German management that it would like to see the business unit, including the IT, outside the Group within ten to a maximum of twelve months.

It quickly became clear that realizing a project of such huge dimensions under such intense time pressure would not consist of an integration into an external IT landscape, but rather necessitate a carve-out into a stand-alone scenario. “We didn’t have the capacity or expertise to handle such a project on our own and to select and manage the necessary service providers,” recalls Scheffler. He therefore charged the consultants of INTARGIA – a unit of digital transformation and software company valantic – with developing a stand-alone strategy. INTARGIA split the transition project into three main phases:

Phase 1: INTARGIA’s consultants prepared a carve-out concept including a target architecture (future mode of operations) and a delivery sourcing concept. In May, a decision was finally made on the target architecture following intensive consultations. This was followed by the start of the provider selection process. By the end of September 2019, all the future providers had been decided on.

Phase 2: The next step was to migrate the systems. The French Saint-Gobain placed rigorous demands on security and compliance, meaning that it was not always possible to use standard tools for the migration. As a result, INTARGIA and the new service provider were faced with the challenge of developing secure and creative methods for e.g. separating out and transferring applications and data.

Close up of hand on truck steering wheel

However, the application servers themselves and some of the data could not be transferred over the WAN connections. In these cases, courier services had to transport high-performance storage systems from Montpellier and Paris to Frankfurt. But the Corona restrictions and partial border closures that were in force at the time placed exacting demands on planning and coordination.

The most challenging logistic and organizational task was the client rollout. Three teams called at 220 locations, delivering a total of 4,500 newly installed clients. “We were able to take over the majority from Saint-Gobain; only 1,200 new systems were needed for various purposes, such as to replace the really old ones,” Scheffler recalls. The team had a grueling workload and successfully mastering the client migration required many weekend shifts. As it turned out, however, everything went well, and the IT specialists ended up needing only eleven months rather than the prescribed twelve.

Phase 3: The third phase focused on cybersecurity. The newly deployed Endpoint Detection and Response and Endpoint Protection Platforms, together with Security Information & Event Management (SIEM), provide excellent protection against malware. All these security systems were collectively integrated into the Cyber Defense Center of the parent company, STARK Group. A separately established task force also took care of the increased number of user support tickets initially associated with a 5,000-client rollout.

Image of a man sitting at a desk and a smiling woman looking at him

Multi-stakeholder management

Over the entire period, three INTARGIA consultants were involved in the transition project in a project management function. The entire project team consisted of more than 100 employees from Saint-Gobain, STARK Group, STARK Deutschland and the service providers. “We have an experienced business unit specializing in M&As with exactly the skills needed for carve-out projects of this type,” explains Stephan Herteux, Principal at INTARGIA. “The IT infrastructure and baseline services originated from the Saint-Gobain group and had to be almost entirely replaced. At the same time, we also took the opportunity for a general overhaul, and to implement new, improved IT processes and establish a highly efficient, external service desk,” Herteux continues.

STARK Deutschland successfully completed the carve-out together with INTARGIA and is now part of the Scandinavian STARK Group. The Scandinavians attach particular importance to sustainable management and sustainable building materials. All of its German branches now run on green electricity. 100,000 items are available via the new e-commerce platform based on SAP Commerce Cloud.

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Your Contact

Stephan Herteux, Director and Member of the Executive Board INTARGIA Managementberatung GmbH

Stephan Herteux

Director and Member of the Executive Board
valantic Management Consulting GmbH

valantic Management Consulting GmbH