Résumé

L'Oréal Group, a globally recognized name in the beauty industry, has modest headquarters despite its international significance. Founded by Eugène Schueller, a French chemist, in 1907, the company initially focused on developing a reliable hair dye. Schueller's perseverance led to the creation of a successful formula based on potato starch. Despite early setbacks, financial support from André Spéry in 1909 allowed the company to thrive. The historic headquarters at 14 rue Royale in Paris has been pivotal in L'Oréal's legacy.

Under Schueller's leadership, L'Oréal expanded its portfolio, launching products like Monsavon and Ambre Solaire. Schueller also introduced progressive employment practices, such as proportional salary systems. However, his involvement with far-right groups during the interwar period tarnished his legacy.

Post-war, André Bettencourt, Schueller's son-in-law, played a significant role in the company's management and its expansion into international markets. Despite controversies surrounding his past associations, Bettencourt contributed to L'Oréal's growth.

Throughout the 20th century, L'Oréal continued to innovate, launching products like Dop and expanding globally through acquisitions. The company's stock market value soared, making it a leader in the cosmetics sector. In recent years, L'Oréal has diversified its activities beyond cosmetics, venturing into digital services and new business development.

Leadership transitions, from Schueller to Nicolas Hieronimus, reflect the company's adaptability and longevity. Today, L'Oréal remains a powerhouse in the beauty industry, led by Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, the richest woman in the world, and continues to thrive through innovation and strategic acquisitions.

Localisation
Open hours

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 11am to 7pm

Access

L'Oréal
14 rue Royale
75008 Paris

  • Metro: Concorde (lines 1, 8 and 12), Madeleine (lines 8, 12 and 14)
  • Bus: "Madeleine" stop - Bus 24, bus 42, bus 52, bus 84 and bus 94
Address

L'Oréal
14 rue Royale
75008 Paris

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 52′ 05″ N 2° 19′ 25″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.86813 2.32331
Description complète

L'Oréal Group, a name familiar to women and men the world over. This company, whose headquarters are relatively modest for its international importance, has a history linked to two men: the founder Eugène Schueller, and the continuator and precursor François Dalle.

Eugène Schueller and the origins of L'Oréal Group

Eugène Schueller, a young French chemist of Alsatian origin, born in 1881, who graduated from the Institut de Chimie Appliquée of Paris in 1904, applied to the Office National de la Propriété Industrielle on November 14, 1907 for a patent on a hair-dyeing process.

At the time, he was working as a preparator at the Sorbonne under the supervision of Professor Victor Auger, advisor to the Pharmacie Centrale de France. He was the only one to volunteer to carry out research into a totally reliable and above all harmless hair dye for covering white hair. At the time, such "dyes" were based on hydrogen peroxide. This problem was to determine his destiny for the rest of his life.

He perfected a dye formula that provided long-lasting coverage for white hair. It is based on potato starch.
Eugène Schueller resigned in January 1908, set up his own company and moved into a two-room apartment at 3, rue d'Alger in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. This was both his office and his showroom. But the hoped-for success did not materialize.

André Spéry's financial contribution

André Spéry, an accountant from Épernay and employee of the well-known spirits manufacturer Cusenier, contributed the necessary 25,000 Fr capital from an inheritance. On July 30, 1909, the Société française de teintures inoffensives pour cheveux set up as a general partnership at 7 bis, rue du Louvre in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. They hire a representative and a demonstrator, a former hairdresser at the Imperial Court of Russia.

The company created by Eugène Schueller was now up and running: its first issue of La Coiffure de Paris (a publication dedicated to hairdressers) appeared in October-November 1909.

L'Oréal Group's historic headquarters at 14 rue Royale, near Concord Square in Paris

L'Oréal Group's historic headquarters since 1938 and renamed "Le Visionnaire" when it reopens in 2023, 14 rue Royale is a place steeped in history.

It stands at the corner of rue Saint-honoré. It used to be a branch of Crédit Lyonnais, located here since at least 1910. But even before that, at the end of the 19th century, there was a cabaret called La Porte Saint-Honoré. Its name derives from the former gate of Louis XIII's enceinte, which stood on this site and was demolished in 1733.

Physiologist Claude Bernard lived in this house in 1859.

It is now the headquarters of the L'Oréal company, which was established at this address by Eugène Schueller in 1938. The company's premises occupy all the buildings at 14 rue Royale, and extend as far as rue Saint-Florentin, to the rear and parallel to rue Royale.

The building itself is one of the architectural masterpieces of the French 18ᵉ century, erected by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, and whose facade and roof are listed as historic monuments.

Inspired by the vision of François Dalle, Managing Director of L'Oréal between 1948 and 1984, 14 rue Royale has retained the spirit of a workshop and "bivouac" where, for over 80 years, the skincare and beauty products that have sometimes revolutionized our daily lives were imagined. Hairdressing, the cradle of L'Oréal's original business, will be back in the spotlight, with over 750 square meters of space, including a highly digitized, hybrid and agile training area, offering cutting-edge expertise and a unique experience.

The interwar period for the company that was to become L'Oréal Group on April 5, 1939

At first, L'Oréal Group was a company with a sustained and continuous presence in hairdressing publications.
In 1923, Eugène Schueller launched L'Oréal Bulletin, a professional magazine distributed in hairdressing salons.
Two years later, L'Oréal Humoristique was launched to keep customers waiting.
The women's magazine Votre Beauté was launched in 1933.
In 1935, Eugène Schueller merged all these publications into the Société d'éditions modernes parisiennes (SEMP).

L'Oréal then diversified. In 1928, it acquired Société des Savons français, founded in 1920 on rue Martre in Clichy (where L'Oréal's current administrative headquarters are located) and better known by its Monsavon brand name.
This was the company's first step into consumer products. Monsavon was sold to Procter & Gamble in 1961.

L'Oréal's future also lay in the development of its own products. In 1929, Eugène Schueller created the first fast dye called "Imedia", whose success was boosted by the fashion for short hair.
Four years later, he launched Dopal shampoo in hair salons.
The following year, the product was renamed Dop for distribution to the general public.
In 1935, he developed Ambre Solaire, the first sun cream - one year before paid vacations.

Eugène Schueller was also active in the social sphere. In 1938, he introduced the "proportional salary" system, which followed sales growth.

The following year, on the death of André Spéry, the company became a SARL (limited liability company).
Finally, on April 5 1939, the new société anonyme was incorporated under the name L'Oréal. Created from the contributions of Société Anonyme Foncière Driant and Société Française de teintures inoffensives pour cheveux. It moved to 14, rue Royale, the company's historic headquarters. Eugène Schueller owned 62,500 of the 70,000 shares of 100 Frs making up the company's capital of 7 million Frs.

The shadowy corners of Eugène Shueller's political activity

Between the wars, he used his personal resources to form a far-right group, the Comité Secret d'Action Révolutionnaire (CSAR), later known as La Cagoule. The L'Oréal head office was the venue for many of the group's meetings.

During the Second World War, Eugène Schueller put André Bettencourt in charge of the French collaborationist magazine La Terre française, where Bettencourt published controversial texts such as the column "Ohé! les Jeunes! In it, he praised Pétain, Georges Lamirand, the National Revolution and collaboration. His long-forgotten writings were brought to light in 1994 by former resistance fighter and Jewish deportee, businessman Jean Frydman, following a financial dispute with L'Oréal executives.

After the war, L'Oréal's subsidiary in Spain was set up by Henri Deloncle, the brother of politician Eugène Deloncle, co-founder of the Cagoule, assassinated in 1944 by the German secret service SD, probably for his ambiguous and troubled positions as "intermediary" in the Vichy government and with the German Admiral Canaris (Head of Intelligence), who wanted to eliminate Hitler.

This same Spanish subsidiary also employed the cagoulard Jean Filiol, who had been convicted as co-responsible for the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre (in France), thus enabling him to escape execution of his sentence, just as many cagoulards would do after the war in other foreign subsidiaries. At the same time, the young François Mitterrand was hired as General Manager of the L'Oréal product promotional magazine, Votre Beauté.

In 1954, the American company Cosmair became L'Oréal's exclusive agent in the United States. Jacques Corrèze was L'Oréal's representative at Cosmair, and the man most responsible for the multinational's exponential growth throughout the Americas.
However, his past pursued him to his death. Sentenced in 1948 to ten years' hard labor by the French courts for intelligence with the enemy (as a participant in joint actions with the Germans during the war), he again escaped the death penalty and was sentenced to a further ten years, confused with the first, for participating in several assassinations. His second wife was Eugène Deloncle's widow.
Then, in 1991, he was investigated by the US Office of Special Investigations for possible war crimes, forcing him to leave the United States. He died a week later. Twenty-four hours before his death on June 26, 1991, Jacques Corrèze had resigned as honorary chairman and director of Cosmair, a subsidiary of L'Oréal.

André Bettencourt's past and the Shueller family

André Bettencourt was a law student from 1935-1937, living at the Marist Fathers' boarding school at 104 rue de Vaugirard in Paris. He frequented members of the Cagoule along with his friends Pierre de Bénouville, Claude Roy and ....François Mitterrand (!).

At the Liberation, he joined the MNPGD (the result of a merger between the RNPG and other prisoner and deportee resistance networks). He was awarded the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945, the Rosette de la Résistance and the Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (!!!!). Thanks to his testimony and that of his friend François Mitterrand, Eugène Schueller, his future father-in-law and founder of L'Oréal, avoids the purge.

He also met Eugène Schueller's only daughter Liliane, whom he married on June 8, 1950. They had a daughter, Françoise, who married Jean-Pierre Meyers, a Jew whose family had disappeared in the concentration camps.

After the war, André Bettencourt joined the management of the l'Oréal group. It was the start of a long career for him both in the L'Oréal group and in politics. Since 1946, he has been elected mayor, deputy, senator for Seine-Maritime (from 1951 to 1995) and minister in the 8 governments of Jacques Chaban-Delmas and Georges Pompidou - in positions as varied as plans and developments, transport, foreign affairs, post and telecommunications, cultural affairs.

In 1986, he was very briefly mentioned as a possible prime minister for François Mitterrand in the first cohabitation government, because of their long-standing friendship.

But with Jean Frydman's writings and documents on the false Resistance activities alleged by André Bettencourt, he had to give up politics and his executive position at L'Oréal in 1995. In his Souvenirs, published in 1998, he tried to erase the accusation of anti-Semitism he was facing at the time, particularly in the eyes of his son-in-law. In 1995, he pleaded "a youthful error" and said he regretted "twenty or so lines about Jews". In his memoirs, written for his family and friends, he described his writings as "rather childish". His conversion to the Resistance in 1943 (or, more accurately, 1944!!!) is also widely disputed by those who actually took part in the "shadow war". Instead, he is considered a "Petainist who came late to the rescue of victory".

L'Oréal's commercial activity in the second half of the 20th century: first Dop

Oréol, the first cold perm, was launched in 1945.

Then, from 1951 onwards, L'Oréal chose to focus primarily on children.
Marketing operations were organized, such as Children's Day, a shampoo competition where participants had to make as much lather as possible by distributing Dop. A giant circus, the Radio-Circus (from 1949 to 1955), hosted by Zappy Max with Radio Luxembourg and the Gruss-Jeannet circus (directed by Lucien Jeannet, Alexis Gruss senior and André Gruss). The first half features international circus acts. The second half features Radio Luxembourg's famous "Crochet Radiophonique", a competition for amateur singers. The winner was chosen by the audience, who shouted "Dop, Dop, Dop!", while the losers were entitled to a ditty: "Allez donc vous faire laver la tête avec Dop, c'est toujours un plaisir, Dop". In the same vein, Quitte ou Double was the most popular show of its day! Great advertising art for the time, when most French families would gather around the radio at broadcast times (corresponding to mealtimes).
L'Oréal's image: combining fun and hygiene through market research and advertising
The public now associates the brand with hygiene, with a playful dimension. On average, between 10 and 20,000 people attend these public events, sometimes as many as 50,000.
1952 also saw the introduction of Berlingot DOP, single-dose colored and scented shampoos sold in glass jars. Petit Rodolphe promoted the product on screen, singing "Moi, je veux un berlingot! It was a hit with children and parents alike, and the product remained on sale for 25 years1.

The same year (1952), Régé-Color direct coloring was launched.

In 1953, Eugène Schueller and Robert Guérin (French soccer referee, trainer, sports journalist and manager. ???) are jointly awarded the "Advertising Oscar".

In 1954, Cosmair becomes L'Oréal's exclusive agent in the United States, and Jacques Corrèze takes over the management.

In the same year (1954), L'Oréal participated in the creation of Stafco (Statistiques françaises de consommation), the first consumer panel. This company became Secodip in 1969, and L'Oréal remained its main shareholder until 1995, when its stake was sold to Sofres.

L'Oréal: dozens of brands bought or developed in-house - or resold

A glance at the list of brands managed by L'oréal reveals a surprisingly large number of well-known names in the cosmetics market.
L'Oréal brands are present in 150 countries worldwide. They are organized by distribution channel:

  • professional products,
  • consumer products,
  • L'Oréal Luxe
  • and dermatological beauty. They

The group has set up its various laboratories in France, the United States, Japan, Brazil and China.

In the United States in particular, the group, headquartered in New York, employs 12,000 people, including over 600 researchers, spread across 16 states. More than 2/3 of products sold are manufactured in the United States, with annual sales of 9 billion.

L'Oréal, outside cosmetics

Outside cosmetics, L'Oréal is also active in

  • Digital Services Factory. This is a center dedicated to the design and development of new digital services for the group's brands. ModiFace, a Canadian company specializing in augmented reality and artificial intelligence applied to beauty, founded in 2007 by Parham Aarabi and acquired by L'Oréal in 2018.
  • the development of new activities. In 2013, L'Oréal set up its own beauty incubator in San Francisco: Tech Incubator Technology (also known as Connected Beauty Incubator108 (CBI) or California Research Center).
  • the Travel Retail organization in 2013. L'Oréal created a "Travel Retail" department that brings together brands from all divisions, present in travel venues such as airports, cruise ships and dedicated locations in Asia.
  • other activities not related to beauty and cosmetics, such as Areca, a design studio, Chimex, a company specializing in the development and production of chemical and biotechnological substances, L'Oréal USA Federal Credit Union, Sanofi (pharmaceuticals and vaccines) and Skinethic, a skin engineering company.
  • In 1976, on the site of the former Monsavon factory (rue Martre in Clichy, a suburb of Paris), the Group built a complex of offices and laboratories for a research center. The aim is to bring together the various technical and sales departments scattered around Paris.

L'Oréal Group also grew through acquisitions - financial and stock market transactions

As early as 1955, the group acquired Laboratoires Industriels de Vichy, giving it access to the pharmacist network.
In 1962, l'Oréal bought Cadoricin - a French cosmetics brand, famous in France from 1946 to 1962. Over the years, dozens of billion-dollar acquisitions followed, unnoticed by the uninitiated.

It wasn't until December 10, 1995, however, that the group launched the first takeover bid in its history, acquiring the American company Maybelline. The brand joined L'Oréal in February 1996 and continued its international development, gradually being added to the brands already owned by the group.
In the meantime, L'Oréal has 85,000 employees.

L'Oréal Group's stock market value

It's a long way from the creation of l'Oréal's ancestor in 1909, on the rue du Louvre. L'Oréal's sales were

  • 1.6 billion Frs (250 million Euros) in 1970
  • 10 billion Frs (1.5 billion Euros) in 1980
  • 2.6 billion Euros in 1986, when L "Oréal became world No. 1 in the cosmetics sector (ahead of Avon at $1.7 billion, Shiseido at $1.6 billion and Revlon at $1.1 billion).
  • sales to reach 38.3 billion Euros by 2022 (an increase of 18%).

L'Oréal Group is listed on the CAC 40 of the Paris stock exchange, on the EURONEXT market.
Its performance to December 31, 2021 is brilliant, with a capitalization of €232.5 billion, shareholders' equity of €23.5 billion and debt of €3.6 billion. Net income for 2022 is 5.7 billion.

In 1974, to protect themselves from potential nationalization by Elf (which had just acquired Sanofi), L'Oréal and Liliane Bettencourt signed a cross-shareholding agreement with the Nestlé group on March 22, 1974. As a result, Liliane Bettencourt received 51% of the joint Gesparal holding company with Nestlé (which obtained 48% of the remaining shares), which in turn held 53.85% of l'Oréal's capital and 76.66% of the voting rights. In addition, Liliane Bettencourt received 115,910 Nestlé shares, representing around 4% of its capital.

In 1994, the shareholders' agreement with Nestlé was renewed,

On February 11, 2014, L'Oréal announces a reorganization of its shareholding structure. In exchange for its stake in their joint subsidiary Galderma, the l'Oréal group acquires 8% of its capital held by Nestlé. After cancellation of the shares, Liliane Bettencourt and Nestlé held 33.31% and 23.29% respectively of L'Oréal's capital.

Today, the breakdown of L'Oréal shares is as follows

  • Bettencourt family: 34.7%
  • International institutional investors: 29.60%, including Nestlé 20.1%.
  • French institutional investors: 7.67%
  • Employees: 1.46%

Eugène Schueller heirs today

Liliane Bettencourt's heiress, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers and her children currently own 34.7% of the group, and their fortune is estimated to exceed 90 billion US dollars by 2023. Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers is ranked by Forbes as one of the world's top billionaires. She is the richest woman in the world and the first woman to exceed $100 billion in December 2023, according to Bloomberg. She has two children, Jean-Victor Meyers and Nicolas Meyers.

Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers is also the author of several books noticed by specialists in the field, on the Bible and the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. From 2007 to 2010, Françoise Bettencours-Meyers was involved in a legal dispute that brought her to the attention of the general public. This conflict pitted him against writer-photographer François-Marie Banier, who received gifts worth almost a billion euros from his elderly mother (Liliane Bettencourt).

Leaders who made L'Oréal Group

Since its creation, the group has been headed by :

  • Eugène Schueller: from July 30, 1909 to August 23, 1957
  • François Dalle succeeded him until November 1984. This law graduate joined Monsavon - L'Oréal in 1942. Eugène Schueller, founder of L'Oréal, recognized his talent and appointed him deputy general manager in 1948. François Dalle became Chairman of the Group in 1957, and his pioneering spirit and adages continued to inspire him throughout his career. He handed over to Charles Zviak in 1984, but maintained his link with L'Oréal by successively becoming Chairman of the Strategy Committee and then a Board member, until his death in 2005.
  • Charles Zviak: until September 1988
  • Lindsay Owen-Jones: until March 17, 2011
  • Jean-Paul Agon :- Chief Executive Officer from April 2006 - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from March 18, 2011 - Chairman from May 1, 2021
  • Nicolas Hieronimus :Chief Executive Officer since May 1, 2021
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