Take a little journey through time to discover the major brands that are made in Bourgogne: Seb, Amora, Kodak, Tolix, etc. Take a look back at the stories of the brands made in Bourgogne that have left their mark on history.
- use the arrow keys to move backwards and forwards
Le Petit Marseillais is a petit Dijonnais
Le Petit Marseillais wasn’t born in Marseille at all: he comes from Dijon! His parent company, the Vendôme laboratories that are now owned by the American giant Johnson & Johnson, bought the brand in 1984 when it was unknown to the general public (with sales of only 100,000 francs a year!). Today, without a hint of a complex, Le Petit Marseillais made in Bourgogne - in Quetigny, to be precise – holds its own against the big names in hygiene on the supermarket shelves, such as Colgate-Palmolive, and occupies second place on the shower gel market. From dry oil to shampoo, not forgetting simple bars of soap, it owes its success to the natural product (100 % plant-based), and the original perfumes obtained from essential oils such as tea, ginger, lemon or lavender. And possibly also to its very French name.
Senoble, the king of desserts
Twelve million pots sold every year! Senoble’s île flottante makes many French people’s mouths water. And it was conceived in Jouy, in the Yonne, just like the entire range of puddings and pastry desserts. The brand’s success has propelled it onto the shelves of supermarkets in Germany, Spain and Great Britain. Today Senoble is the third largest French manufacturer of ultra-fresh products. Founded in 1921 by Sophie Senoble, whose story was told on television by Jean Rochefort, the company was originally only a rustic cheesemaker. Today it is a giant still owned by its heirs, with a turnover of more than a billion euros. Marc Senoble has expanded his empire with acquisitions, such as that of Elisabeth the Chef in England in 2007.
The aristocrat amongst henhouses: Duc
Duc is the leading European producer of certified poultry, specialising in the production, slaughter, packaging and sale of chickens and turkeys, and has enjoyed great success on the supermarket stands. Today the group sells more than 57,000 tons of poultry a year with a turnover of € 200 million. At the origin of this empire was Gérard Bourgoin, who, with his pork butcher’s certificate in his pocket, laid the first stone of this structure in 1972 in Chailley, his native commune. For years he sponsored AJ Auxerre football club, ensuring his brand’s reputation, but this was sullied in 2000 by a momentous voluntary liquidation. Today Duc is under the control of new shareholders and is no longer teetering on the brink, in fact very far from it. In 2008 the brand invested € 2 million in Chailley, which remains the benchmark site despite the fact that the group is now present everywhere in France.
Anis de Flavigny through the ages
In 1988 the anis de Flavigny were awarded the blue ribbon by Intersuc for being one of the oldest sweets in France. A seed and some sugar: this is the basic recipe for this “bien bon bonbon”, whose commercial success was ensured by a deal signed by Jean Troubat. The anis de Flavigny were the first sweets to be sold in the Paris Metro, virtually from the day it started running. Today the aniseed sweets produced at Flavigny abbey and managed by Catherine Troubat remain the only custodian of a recipe that had been used by the Benedictine monks in this village of the Côte-d’Or since the Middle Ages. The sweets, the size of a pea, are now sold on the Internet and are exported to more than 119 countries. In France you can’t miss them: the little oval boxes made from enamel are everywhere! From service stations to airports, not forgetting sweetshops, alongside the refreshing sweets from which they stand out with their original natural flavours such as ginger or cinnamon.
Berthaut, the ambassador of Epoisses
It is one of the jewels of the gastronomy of Burgundy. In 2009, at the international agriculture exhibition, the cheesemaker Berthaut was awarded three medals for its Epoisses cheeses. A real reason for pride for this company (75 employees), which produces 500 tons a year and thus supplies half the total tonnage from this appellation d’origine contrôlée. What makes this cheese special? It is a lactic curd that is wet by nature, and is rinsed in salt water and blended with marc de Bourgogne. Epoisses cheese is the last French cheese to be manufactured and matured using this most delicate of methods. Furthermore, of the 200 to 300 farms which manufactured it at the end of the 19th century, only two remained in the Auxois in 1956 when Robert Berthaut decided to relaunch production. At that time it was primarily for his personal consumption, but today Epoisses cheese with its powerful smell is enjoying a new lease of life as far away as the United States, Japan or Australia. The company exports one third of its production.
URGO takes care of bohos
“Urgo’s in the air.” The slogan which became engraved in people’s memories dates from 1979! At that time the brand was 20 years old but the company manufacturing it, Fournier in Dijon, was 100. Today the Urgo laboratories have become the leading French producer of wound dressings and have been embodied in advertisements successively featuring Christine Aron or Sébastien Chabal. But they are also (a less well-known fact) the number one in the treatment of the upper respiratory tract, with Humex. Their products are constantly updated and innovative, and enable their manufacturer to stay in good health, including exports (50 % of their total sales of € 260 million). In 2009 Urgo received the Direct Médica innovation trophy for the launch of its product Urgo Damaged Nails, which benefits from a patented technology, Filmogel, and is the first liquid dressing to be marketed. Made in Bourgogne!
Kodak has packed its bags and gone
The arrival of the digital era on the photo market delivered Kodak a fatal blow, and it shut its doors at Chalon-sur-Saône more than 5 years ago. The site which numbered 2500 people in the good times supplied the French with the films and disposable cameras they recorded their memories on for four decades, and also the professionals of the cinema or medical radiography for whom Chalon-sur-Saône manufactured photosensitive surfaces. Because it was the site in Chalon-sur-Saône, situated on the Rhine-Rhône axis, which Eastman Kodak chose to develop its sales on the European market. Today the site has not been left to lie waste, but has been renovated to create an industrial zone where almost a thousand jobs have already been recreated. Chalon-sur-Saône incontrovertibly remains the cradle of the photo, since Nicéphore Niepce, the father and inventor of photography, originated from here.
From Pernot to Mulot: Dijon makes biscuits
Its gaufrettes, petits beurres and croquets, christened with pretty names such as “Piou-Piou” or “l’Amourette”, have provided supper for children and accompanied coffee for adults for decades. Today the Pernot factory is no longer there, and the only biscuit factory left in Dijon now is Mulot & Petitjean. This venerable company is the very last gingerbread manufacturer in the city since it acquired Auger in 1969. Despite the invasion of sweeter products, it has never abandoned the original recipe which combined flour, honey and spices. Quite simply. With a turnover of € 3 million, which has been increasing in recent years, it is pursuing its conquest of new markets. Its objective today is to develop beyond national boundaries with updated products such as pavés, nonnettes, gimblettes or glacés minces.
Terrot: motorcycles that have passed into legend
For 40 years, from 1912 to 1952, the French motorcycle capital was … Dijon! Terrot used to produce as many as 25,000 units a year here. Its production site on boulevard Voltaire in Dijon remains a model for the industrial architecture of the 1920s, and is owned today by the Japanese automotive equipment manufacturer JTEKT. Once the car was born, the company worked to defend its image against the competition, with René Desdions, the French champion who won the Paris-Nice race three times on a 175-horsepower motorbike and who together with Pierre Perrotin and Jacques Durant formed the basic trio of the Terrot stable. The three of them were actually the drivers behind the Factory (written with a capital letter the way Alfred Vurpillot, the boss, wanted it). Today the Terrot machines have been stored in museums, where they evoke those splendid days when every user had their own special model, such as the Terrot described in the advertisements as having been specially designed for ladies and members of the church……
Tolix still make great chairs
Its chairs and armchairs are featured in the collections of the Vitra Design Museum, MoMa and the Centre Pompidou. Today Tolix, in Autun, is a company that has gone down in legend. Every month 4,000 chairs are shipped in containers to the end of the world, in thirty countries. “This is a huge thing for us since we do everything by hand”, emphasises the manager, Chantal Andriot, who can list no less than 200 operations for each item. In March 2007 this expertise was rewarded by the company obtaining its “Living Heritage Company” label (Ministry of the Economy). The cult chairs are manufactured just the way they were in 1930, using moulds designed by Xavier Pauchard, modelled on the stool 45, which has now swapped its grey apparel for pastel shades. This is because today Tolix is increasing its collaborations with designers to reproduce the classics that were originally designed with sobriety to equip collectives, industry and commerce.
Lacanche signs off range cookers for the professionals
Thanks to its products, the village where it is based has become a separate brand all of its own. The Société Industrielle de Lacanche (SIL) produces exceptional customised stoves. Plate-warmer, deep fryer, steamer or range top hotplates: a Lacanche is like a Rolls Royce, where you can choose everything down to the slightest option! No point in going to Darty or Boulanger... Lacanche range cookers are only sold by certain culinary equipment specialists and smart stores such as Harrods in London. What makes them special? “We offer professional cookers to private individuals”, is how Jean-Jacques Augagneur sums it up. He now also offers his company’s expertise in contemporary product ranges such as Westahl.
Seb or the kitchen revolution
On 19 October 1953, the little commune of Selongey woke up to a hissing sound, unknown to to them at the time but now very familiar, that of the first pressure cooker! The company called Société d’Emboutissage de Bourgogne (SEB) had just started production of its “cocotte-minute” (whose name was only registered in 1978). Since then cooking by steam has become normal almost everywhere, at the same time as the name Seb, with nobody really knowing any longer what it actually means. Every second six Seb products are sold somewhere in the world. Cafetieres, electric fryers, toasters or steamers: nowadays the empire founded by the Lescure family has become highly diversified thanks to successive acquisitions, in particular those of Krups, Moulinex or Rowenta. However, Selongey remains the nerve centre of Seb, and the source of the Actifry, the company’s latest major innovation: just one spoonful of oil is enough to fry a kilo of chips!
S for Schneider
In 1914, 15,000 workers were employed in Le Creusot at the Schneider factories, whose empire extended to the naval yards in Le Havre. But the company’s story well and truly began in 1836 in Saône-et-Loire, where for 150 years it manufactured the locomotives and cannons which established the Le Creusot’s position during the industrial revolution. It was here in particular that the first French locomotive, the Gironde, was born, a magnificent steam engine that has gone down in the history of rail and was signed with an S. Today Le Creusot remains a jewel of French industry, now converted to the nuclear industry, because despite the accidental death of Charles Schneider in 1960, which marked the end of an empire that had remained in family hands until then, the expertise developed in this basin has survived. The principal parts of the latest generation EPR reactor will be produced at Le Creusot by ArcelorMittal, which in a way has become the heir to the forges.
Lapierre & Look Cycle continue their ascent
In 1975, native of Burgundy Bernard Thévenet only needed one bite to wipe out Eddie Merckx, known as the “Cannibal”, on the climb towards Pra-Loup, thus winning his first Tour de France. Burgundy has its cycling champions, and some of them receive less media coverage than the kings of the Tour de France. Their leader is called Look Cycle. This company, born almost 25 years ago in Nevers where it employs 150 people, today equips more than half the riders in the Tour, notably Alberto Contador, who won the Tour de France in 2009. It achieves 70 % of its turnover internationally thanks to its carbon frames and automatic pedals, which are amongst the highest-performance in the world. Alongside it the company Lapierre employs around 60 staff in Dijon. It produces some 80,000 cycles a year, mainly for the French market, where it has become the leader in mountain biking, but in another area too: this company, born in the immediate post-war period, now manufactures the famous Vélib and Vélov bikes that are available on a self-service basis in Paris and Lyon.
Amora : Dijon forever
At the end of 2008, the announcement of the closure of the historic Amora-Maille site was like a bombshell. But so nobody is mistaken, the production of Dijon mustards and mayonnaises has remained in Burgundy, but based now in Chevigny-Saint-Sauveur, on the edge of Dijon, on a modern industrial site suitable for the constraints of production today. Even though Dijon mustard is not an appellation d’origine contrôlée – and can therefore be made anywhere in the world - Amora remains attached to the city, where the brand was born in 1919. Its name has been kept by Unilever Bestfoods, and is a name which has a strong reputation today, sustained by advertising slogans highlighting its flavour