Saint-Gobain’s 350 years of history have been an ongoing film of change and adaptation, demonstrating that industry is movement.
From Royal Manufactory to industry
Founded during the reign of Louis XIV, the Royal Manufactory of mirror glass developed a revolutionary procedure that involved casting glass on a metal table. It opened its main production site in a small village in the northeastern part of the Kingdom from which it took its name: Saint-Gobain.
In October 1665, Louis XIV signed the Letters Patent, thereby officially creating the Manufacture des Glaces de Miroirs in Paris, one of 25 royal manufactories founded that year.
A period of prosperity and development
The mirror glass works benefited not only from royal orders as soon as it opened for business, but also and even more so from the soaring popularity of mirrors among the general population. This and its monopoly on mirror glass making helped guarantee the Manufactory’s prosperity.
Progression of the glass market
Confronted with the emergence of strong international competition, Saint-Gobain developed a large chemical business that supported the expansion of glass works outside of France. Glass was becoming a construction material in its own right with the growth of architecture combining steel and glass for large public buildings such as railway stations, exhibition centers, greenhouses, indoor food markets, covered walkways and department stores.
Industrial revolutions and modern times
The 20th century was one of diversification: after focusing almost exclusively on manufacturing mirror glass since its was founded, Saint-Gobain now became interested in all types of glass products.
The new automobile market reinforced the development of the more traditional construction market, which was stimulated by the promotion of a light-filled architectural style that combined concrete and glass.
After World War II, the Group transformed once again through major mergers and acquisitions. The partnership with Pont-à-Mousson and the reorganization of the newly merged Group marked an important turning point. The following years were shaped by the emergence of great captains of industry, as well as by the Group’s entry into building materials distribution and stepped-up international expansion.
A worldwide Group backed by 350 years of history
Saint-Gobain group has refocused on its sustainable habitat strategy and accelerated its international expansion.
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GIE Saint-Gobain Archives
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