L’Oréal is the world’s number one cosmetics company.
©ERIC PIERMONT / AFP
L’Oréal, the world’s number one cosmetics company, appears unbeatable today. Many personalities have contributed to the success of the company.
It was a little budding chemist who created L’Oréal. At the age of 26, Eugène Schueller, a Parisian engineer, designs at the request of a hairdresser, the first so-called “harmless” hair dye; from which he took the name of his first company: Société française de dyes inoffensives pour hair.
But the patent that he filed in 1907 is aptly named after the Auréale.
Eugène Schueller invents and designs his products at night and during the day, he goes to do sales with hairdressers.
Selling dyes was quite difficult at that time. In bourgeois circles, women do not color their hair.
Fortunately, for Eugène Schueller, comes an unexpected boost. Coco Chanel succeeds in popularizing the boyish and colorful cut, success is assured.
After dyeing, other products arrive, including the famous solar amber, used during the first paid holidays in 1936.
Nicknamed Monsieur 6000 heures, Eugène Schueller has a busy schedule, from 5 a.m. to midnight, enough to share between several companies: Valentine paints, Monsavon or his magazine, Your Beauty, which is used to promote his cosmetics. in the profession.
Because of his collaborationist attitude during the 2nd World War, Eugène Schueller no longer had the right to run his company in 1946. He put at its head a resistance fighter and friend, André Bettencourt.
A name that will change the destiny of L’Oréal. First, because André is going to marry Eugene’s only daughter, Liliane. But he also brings his close friends into the circle. François Mitterrand became editor-in-chief of Your Beauty for a while and François Dalle joined the company and went so far as to rise to the head of the empire.
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The L’Oréal brand, if it has managed to stay in people’s minds, is mainly thanks to advertising.
Eugène Schueller excels at it. First, he joined forces with one of the best Marcel Bleustein, founder of Publicis, and then he sponsored radio broadcasts.
Advertising enhances consumers but above all leads them to succumb to new needs.
Advertising, a way, said Schueller, to “defend oneself against the laziness of consumers”. Long before the slogan that went around the world “Because I’m worth it”, Schueller had a nose.
When the founder died in 1957, he left the reins to this talented man, François Dalle, emblematic boss, who would increase the brand portfolio and the turnover: with the takeovers of Lancôme, Biotherm, Garnier and so many ‘others.
In the 1970s, L’Oréal was so beautiful, so seductive, that it was courted. To counter any possible nationalization or takeover bid, the management then formed a shareholders’ pact with the Swiss Nestlé. It is a cross-shareholding that locks the capital.
Decades later and even after being run for 20 years by an Englishman, Lindsay Owen Jones, L’Oréal is even more French. Since the death of Liliane Bettencourt in 2017, Nestlé has sold its shares and the Bettencourt Meyers family, 3rd and 4th generation, controls L’Oréal with almost 35% of the capital.