"The creation of two Divisions reflected the Group’s desire to develop real links between its plant and animal activities that could valorize all products from the oilseeds sector." Philippe Tillous-Borde
At that time, Glon Sanders grouped all activities in animal sectors. Made up of around fifty subsidiaries based throughout France, it developed two main specialties: animal nutrition and health and the processing of animal products for human foods.
Founded in 1984, Soprol was a holding company that grouped subsidiaries in the Oilseeds Division: Saipol (crushing and refining), Expur, Lesieur, Lesieur Générale Condimentaire, Diester industrie, Diester Industrie International, Oleon and Novance.
Acquisition of a 65% stake in the Glon Sanders Group. By taking a majority stake, Sofiprotéol finally secured one of the principal markets for French oilseed and protein crops. Creation of two Divisions: the Oilseeds Division and Animal Products Division. This simplified organization enhanced the clarity of the Group’s strategy.
The Group counted 3600 employees. The Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and Crédit Agricole took stakes in Soprol. These operations reinforced the financial resources of this company, thus facilitating its long-term growth in France and internationally. A 30% stake was acquired in Cristal Tunisia, which operated the Lesieur brand in that country.
Launch of Agro-Invest. This venture capital fund was designed to foster closer ties between SMEs in the agrifood sector during their growth phase, or to assist them to achieve milestones. The CNIEL (National Center for Dairy Economics), which grouped important federations in that sector in France, set up the FEDIL (an interprofessional development fund for the dairy industry) and entrusted its management to Sofiprotéol.
Takeover of Générale Condimentaire which since 1994 had been producing Lesieur sauces and mayonnaises made using rapeseed and sunflower oils at its facility in Grande-Synthe (Nord). Diester Industrie launched the Diesterlub range of biolubricants. Strategic alliance with Hendrix Genetics, one of the European leaders in animal genetics, in which Sofiprotéol acquired a 12% stake. The two partners then launched a program of joint research projects.
Acquisition of the Belgian firme Oleon, one of the European leaders in oleochemicals. As a result of this takeover, Sofiprotéol was able to set up an important oleochemicals cluster named Oleon-Novance which became European leader in its field. The Group thus reaffirmed its commitment to renewable chemistry and enhanced its international presence. The new grouping developed a broad range of renewable products and formulations that are biodegradable and non-toxic, made with vegetable oils and fats and used in the agrifood industry, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cleaning products, paints or detergents.
Sogeval, a Glon Sanders subsidiary specialized in animal health, purchased Vitality, a company based in Florida (USA) and specialized in veterinary products for pets.
Launch of the BioTfueL project on the production of second generation biodiesels alongside those of the first generation, with support from the ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency). Bunge sold Soprol the 33% stake it had held in Saipol since the takeover of Lesieur in 2003. Soprol now had 100% control over Saipol, which in turn fully controlled Lesieur.
By purchasing Expur, and subsequently the Untdelem de la Bunica and Olpo brands, the Group gained a firm foothold in the oilseed production basin of Eastern Europe and the Black Sea, one of the largest in Europe.
In 2011, Sofiprotéol launched its first corporate communication campaign called "Flower Power" after the Seventies movement and as a reference to the flowers of rapeseed and sunflower. Its aim was to raise the awareness of opinion leaders to the challenges faced by the Group’s activities with respect to flavor, energy, innovation, technology and employment.
Lesieur acquired Lesieur Cristal, the Moroccan leader in edible olive oils and grain, as well as soaps. This operation reinforced the Group’s role in the structuring of markets in the Maghreb region and also opened new markets for French rapeseed and sunflower producers.
Second generation biofuels and the BioTfuel project
Second generation biofuels are produced using non-edible plant parts: straw, wood and plant waste. They are directly usable by conventional vehicles and enable a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions. Launched in 2009 by Avril, with support from ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency), the BioTfueL project was designed to produce biodiesel or biokerosene by processing the ligneous parts of green and forest wastes. A pilot unit was set up for this purpose at the Group’s site in Venette (Oise).
Initiation of the P.I.V.E.R.T. project (Picardy Plant-based Innovations, Teaching and Technological Research) focused on the transformation of (whole plant) biomass into renewable chemical products. Avril is participating in this project alongside several industrial firms and research organizations.
"Representatives of the sector were expressing strong demands with respect to sustainable and societal development. How could our activities generate jobs in France? How could we contribute to the growth of agricultural sectors in other countries? The Cap 2018 plan was designed to address these issues." Jean-Philippe Puig, CEO of Avril
Acquisition in Romania of the Untdelem de la Bunica and Olpo edible oil brands, hitherto operated by the American group Cargill.
An agreement was signed with the Moroccan government. In the context of the Green Morocco Plan, the Group would support an increase in the land area used to cultivate rapeseed and sunflower, notably through supply contracts for Lesieur Cristal.
Increase in the stake held in Matines, specialized in shell eggs sold by major retailers.
Acquisition of all shares in Glon Sanders.
Presentation of the Cap 2018 strategic plan. Compiled in close consultation with professionals in the sector, it laid down opportunities for growth during the period 2012-2018, with particular emphasis on sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.
Handing over the baton
In 2012, Jean-Philippe Puig succeeded Philippe Tillous-Borde, who had been Director General of the Group since 1983. With a background in the aluminum industry, the mission of this engineer with experience in the operations of international firms was to adapt the Group’s management and strategy to its new dimensions. Puig worked in concert with Xavier Beulin, who had been Chairman of the Group since 2000.