Group Danone today has very little in common with its original operations, except that the Riboud family has been in charge for over four decades. Danone’s humble beginnings are traced back to Lyon, France where the original firm was a glass container manufacturer named Souchon-Neuvesel. The following information briefly chronicles the history and genesis of Danone. Danone’s history reflects three common themes, the company achieving a leadership position in its markets, the firm’s (or the Riboud family’s) willingness to exit successful businesses in order to redefine itself in the pursuit of growth, and the company’s successful use of strategic mergers and acquisitions to perpetuate growth.
•1965- Antoine Riboud replaced his uncle as chairman of the family-run Souchon-Neuvesel, a Lyons, France-based maker of glass bottles •1966- Souchon-Neuvesel merged with Glaces de Boussois, a major French plate glass manufacturer (windows for buildings & autos), creating BSN. The companies came to together for two primary goals, 1. to cope with the changing market trend toward “no-deposit, no-return bottles, and 2. to create a company that would be large and competitive enough for the expanding European Common Market. •Using acquisitions, by the end of the 1960’s BSN had become one of the largest glass manufacturers in all of Europe. However, the container industry was changing as the demand for paper and plastic containers was spelling doom for glass bottle makers. BSN recognized this threat and because it did not have operations or ties in the petrochemicals, forestry or steel industries, the company believed a good solution would be to start making the contents for its containers. This strategy marked another redefining moment for the company and once again they would use acquisitions to create scale and generate growth. •In 1970, BSN took control of Evian, Kronenbourg and the European Breweries Company and became the leading French manufacturer of beer, and mineral waters. • In 1973 BSN and Gervais Danone merged companies and created the biggest food group in France. For BSN, the merger represented a major opportunity to move forward and enter new markets, with a decisive shift toward food products. •With escalating energy costs hitting the glass-making business hard and convinced growth would not return to this business for some time, BSN Gervais Danone began to exit from plate glass manufacturing, which did not fit in with the food side of its business. It pulled out of the plate glass sector completely in 1981, selling off Boussois and focused firmly on food from then on. ••1980’s - In a series of acquisitions, BSN began a conquest of Europe by taking over many local companies in various food categories to become Europe’s third-biggest food group. •1982- Purchased Dannon, leading US yogurt maker (co-founded by Gervais Danone’s Daniel Carasso). •Entered the biscuit industry in 1986 by buying General Biscuit and in 1989 they added to its portfolio of biscuit brands by acquiring Nabisco's European subsidiaries. •1988- Begins aggressive push into global market with over 40 acquisitions in Asia, Latin America, Central Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. •1994- Company changes name to Group Danone, symbolized by a little boy gazing up at a star, to take advantage of the success of its leading brand, which was famous the world over. •1996- Franck Riboud succeeded his father as chairman and restructured the company to focus on three core businesses: dairy, beverages (specifically water), and biscuits. •1999- Sold off its container business and breweries.
Danone’s Bottled Water Business
In 2001, Danone’s water division became number one in the world water market based on volume sales with 12.5% of the global market. As a portion of total firm revenues, bottled water comprised 27% or approximately $3.4 billion of total revenues for Danone in 2001. Danone has accomplished its...