Bernard Bressoux


Technical & Quality Director Petzl

Topic: Consumer product liability



The rise in consumer liability cases is one of the more troublesome trends that brands need to be concerned with. The Anglo-Saxon culture particularly in the USA has long had a very active civil liability environment led by aggressive no win no fee legal practices. Now the United Kingdom is increasingly heading in this direction, and it is only a matter of time before continental Europe is in a similar situation. So brands need to be fully prepared and have a thorough understanding of their commitment to both users and retailers! Following a recent case, the Petzl organization has found that it has had to implement a whole raft of measures to ensure that it is better prepared for when future consumer liability cases arise. In this presentation Bernard will explain what Petzl has done and why in order to meet this new challenge.



Educated at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers (ENSAM) in Paris, Bernard graduated in September 1983 with a Diploma in Engineering studies. He then fulfilled the one year of required military service as an Officer in the French Navy, based in the Caribbean and in charge of a repair workshop with 40 staff. Next Bernard joined Société Nouvelle de Roulements (SNR), a ball bearing manufacturer located in Annecy, as a Production & Industrialization Engineer. In 1986 he joined the Alpine Ski Binding division of Salomon SA as Quality Product manager, and nine years later had worked his way up to Research & Development Director with 40 people on his team. In 1998 he switched to the Outdoor Footwear department based in Boulder, Colorado, USA, and was appointed Activity Director for the unit two years later. In 2003 Bernard decided to return to France and became Research & Development Director at Petzl, for whom he still works today. Bernard’s current role is Technical & Quality Director, where is responsible for managing liability risk, which includes handling incidents, accidents, quality, preventive and corrective actions to reduce the risks linked to the use of Petzl products, managing lab tests, technical information, training, after sales service, audits, as well as ISO and CEN certifications. His hobbies include mountaineering, rock climbing, ice climbing, canyoning, ski touring, adventure racing, mountain biking, white-water sports, cross-country skiing and sailing.

Founded by Fernand Petzl in 1933 to produce climbing tools using his engineering skills, the business slowly expanded and Paul Petzl, the current family CEO, joined the business after graduating college. 1973 saw the creation of new rope clamps and the first “entirely on the head” headlamp. The 1980s saw an explosion in the practice of rock climbing. Petzl invented climbing harnesses for these new markets and designed the machines to produce them. In 1986 Petzl was the first company in its sector to build a testing lab. In 2000, Charlet Moser (crampon and ice axe manufacturer) joined the Petzl group. Another important event in that same year was the invention of the first LED headlamp: the TIKKA. In 2006, the Petzl Foundation was born and started to support education, prevention, environment and research projects in the sports, work-at-height and rescue sectors, and was followed in 2008 the creation of V.axess, The  Petzl Institute, for sharing knowledge and experimentation. Today, Petzl has revenues of 80 million Euros, 80 % outside of France, 450 employees, and a distribution network in fifty-one countries.

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