117 rue Charles Michels, BP 169
F-93200 Saint Denis
Telephone: (33) 1 49 22 60 61
Fax: (33) 1 42 43 11 26
Incorporated: 1906; 1929 as Hy Bergerat, Monnoyeur et Cie
Sales: ($837 million) (2003)
NAIC: 423810 Construction and Mining (except Petroleum) Machinery and Equipment Merchant Wholesalers; 423830 Industrial Machinery and Equipment Merchant Wholesalers
1906: Henry Bergerat launches a business importing and distributing construction equipment and machinery in France.
1929: Bergerat founds Hy. Bergerat, Monnoyeur & Cie with cousin Francis Monnoyeur and obtains exclusive French dealership for Caterpillar machinery.
1938: The company opens its first branch office in Toulouse.
1960: Operations are expanded to include materials handling equipment as well as power generators and engines.
1964: A dedicated engine division is set up in Bonneuil-sur-Maine.
1971: Power generator and engine assembly operations are transferred to a new subsidiary, Energie Autonome.
1980: Energie Autonome is merged into the company's engine division.
1981: A Caterpillar dealership in Algeria is acquired.
1984: The company expands into power plant installation.
1989: Feu Vert, a network of auto supply and service stores founded in 1972, is acquired.
1991: A Caterpillar dealership in Rumania is opened; Feu Vert launches Spanish operations.
1994: The company changes its name to Groupe Monnoyeur.
1996: The group buys generator set rental group Solylomat in France.
1997: The group acquires the short-term equipment rental group Slevmi in France and opens a Caterpillar dealership in Poland.
1998: Feu Vert acquires the auto supply and service division of Casino and takes a 38 percent stake in Feu Vert.
2000: Feu Vert acquires Carrefour's Spanish auto supply and service network.
2002: Feu Vert acquires Carrefour's auto supply and service network in France.
2004: The group acquires Treco, an operator of Caterpillar equipment rental stores under The CAT Store brand.
Groupe Monnoyeur is a leading retailer, wholesaler, and rental agency for construction and other machinery in France and elsewhere in Europe. Since 1929, the company has held the exclusive distribution contract for Caterpillar machinery in France. The company has since expanded its relationship with Caterpillar to include operations in Belgium, Poland, Luxembourg, Romania, and Algeria. In addition to the sale and rental of construction machinery, Monnoyeur has established a strong network of service centers that provides repairs and spare parts. The company has also created a number of specialized subsidiaries for markets such as power generation equipment (Eneria), materials handling equipment (Aprolis), as well as a subsidiary focused on the public works market (Bergerat Monnoyeur SCA). Monnoyeur also controls 62 percent of the Feu Vert chain of nearly 400 franchised automotive parts and repair shops in France, Spain, and Poland. Groupe Monnoyeur remains a private company controlled by the founding Monnoyeur family, led by Baudouin Monnoyeur.
Getting on Track in the 1920s
Groupe Monnoyeur's origins traced back to the development of French industry at the beginning of the 20th century. The demand for machinery and equipment in the rapidly industrializing country led Henry Bergerat to form a company in 1906 in order to import and sell steam-powered machinery and other equipment. Bergerat's client base came especially from the public works and construction sectors, and Bergerat developed something of a specialty in the trade in construction machinery.
Bergerat was joined in business by his cousin Francis Monnoyeur, and by the 1920s Bergerat's company had become a prominent supplier of equipment in France and, later, elsewhere in Europe. The reconstruction of France brought a steady stream of orders into the company, and by 1929 Bergerat and Monnoyeur decided to form a new company together, called Hy. Bergerat, Monnoyeur et Cie. The Monnoyeur family was to remain in control of the company into the next century.
The year 1929 also marked the beginning of the company's relationship with The Caterpillar Tractor Company. The U.S. company had just launched its famed Caterpillar 60, and Francis Monnoyeur quickly recognized its potential to transform the French construction machinery sector. By the end of that year, Monnoyeur had signed a contract with Caterpillar giving Bergerat, Monnoyeur & Cie the exclusive license to sell Caterpillar equipment in France.
Sales of the machines, including bulldozers, pavers, and the like, grew quickly and on a national level. Bergerat Monnoyeur also made an important decision early on, launching an extensive aftermarket service program, including repairs and an extensive stock of spare parts. By the late 1930s, the company had extended its service segment to provide on-site repairs, an innovation at the time, leading the company to open its first branch office in Toulouse in 1938.
Bergerat Monnoyeur's decision to develop a spare parts and repairs service played a crucial role during World War II, when the occupation of the country cut off the supply of new machinery and parts from the United States. By the end of the war, the company had become one of the country's most prominent names in construction equipment and machinery. This placed the group in a strong position to benefit from the French reconstruction market in the postwar years.
The 1950s marked the beginning of a series of vast new public works projects in France, not the least of which was the development of the country's Autoroute high-speed toll road system. The company responded to the rising demand for its vehicles and equipment by expanding its branch network throughout France. At the same time, the company put into place a secondary network of specialized repair and service facilities.
Diversified in the 1980s
Bergerat Monnoyeur also branched out from its sales of construction vehicles to offer new types of equipment being developed by Caterpillar and others. In 1960, the company launched a new division for the sales of materials handling equipment, such as forklifts and scissorlifts, as well as engine and generator systems and equipment specific to the public works sector. By 1964, these sales had risen sufficiently for the company to create more specialized divisions for its products. In that year the company opened a new engine division in Bonneuil-sur-Marne.
That site also became the location for a new production line for the assembly of generator sets, an operation launched by the company in 1968. This activity led to the creation of a new subsidiary, Energie Autonome, in 1970, which began assembling generator sets and engines.
Bergerat Monnoyeur's investments in its service network enabled the company to weather the difficult years following the Arab oil embargo in the early 1970s. Nevertheless, the construction sector continued its slump into the early 1980s, while the public works sector plunged into an outright crisis. In response, Bergerat Monnoyeur began seeking to diversify its operation further from its reliance on construction equipment. In the early 1980s, the company boosted its position in the materials handling market. The company also took steps to increase its operations in the engine and generator sectors. As part of that process, the company merged its engine division with Energie Autonome in 1980. That subsidiary then branched out with the launch of power plant installation operations in 1984. Bergerat Monnoyeur also made its first move into the international market, acquiring the dealership for Caterpillar in Algeria.
Bergerat Monnoyeur's longstanding service and spare parts operations led the company to expand in another direction in the late 1980s. The company's attention turned to the fast-growing automobile parts market, particularly to Feu Vert, one of the fastest-growing and largest of these businesses. Feu Vert had been founded in Lyon in 1972 and had developed a strong regional network of more than 40 stores by the end of the decade. The company had also been one of the first to add an automotive service center to its auto parts stores. Feu Vert was to grow especially strongly after it inaugurated a franchise system in 1983, a move that helped the company extend to a national level by the end of the decade.
Bergerat Monnoyeur at first acquired 50 percent of Feu Vert; by 1989, however, the company had acquired full control of the auto parts distributor. Feu Vert had meanwhile completed two significant acquisitions of its own, purchasing the 26-store Bertin group and Perf, the auto parts retail network of the Cora supermarket group. Under Bergerat Monnoyeur, Feu Vert launched a still more aggressive expansion. In 1990 alone, the company opened more than 100 new branches.
International Network in the 2000s
As one of Caterpillar's oldest partners in Europe, Bergerat Monnoyeur became the obvious choice as partner in Caterpillar's expansion into the newly opening markets in Eastern Europe. In 1991, for example, Bergerat Monnoyeur acquired the dealership for Caterpillar's equipment in Rumania. This extension was followed the acquisition of the Caterpillar dealership in Poland as well, taking over from a business that had been in place since the mid-1960s. At the same time, Bergerat's Feu Vert subsidiary had launched its own international growth strategy, targeting Spain in 1991 with the creation of Feu Vert Iberica, a joint venture with the Promodes supermarket group.
Bergerat Monnoyeur changed its name to Groupe Monnoyeur in 1994 as part of a restructuring of its operations. At that time, the company created several new subsidiaries, including Bergerat Monnoyeur Manutention (materials handling), Bergerat Monnoyeur Energie (generators and engines), Bergerat Monnoyeur International, and Bergerat Monnoyeur Travaux Publics (public works).
Groupe Monnoyeur also launched a new activity in the mid-1990s as it entered the equipment rental market. In 1996, the company acquired Solylomat, a generator set rental company. The following year, Monnoyeur added Slevmi, a company specialized in short-term rental of construction equipment. Meanwhile, Monnoyeur had also been expanding its power generator operations, securing the franchise for distributing Caterpillar's entire generator range in France in 1999. The following year, the company added energy and engine operations in Rumania, creating the subsidiary Enertrac there.
Feu Vert had also been expanding, notably with the acquisition of the entire network of automotive parts supplies and service centers operated by the Casino supermarket group in 1998. In exchange for its shops, Casino acquired a 38 percent stake in Feu Vert. Two years later, Feu Vert took over the Carrefour group's Spanish auto supply stores. Then, in 2002, the two companies reached an agreement giving Feu Vert control of Carrefour's French auto supply and service network as well.
Monnoyeur reorganized again in 2001, renaming its engine and generators subsidiary as Eneria, its materials handling business as Aprolis, while its public works operators inherited the group's history name of Bergerat Monnoyeur SCA. In 2004, the company extended into a new market, taking over Belgium's Treco, which operated an equipment rental business under The CAT Store brand in Belgium and Luxembourg. As it turned toward the middle of the decade, Groupe Monnoyeur remained one of Caterpillar's most important European partners.
Principal Subsidiaries: Aprolis; Bergerat Monnoyeur SCA; Eneria; Magellan et Bergerat
Principal Competitors: MAN AG (Germany); Multotec Holdings Proprietary Ltd.; Van Neerbos Bouwmarkten B.V.; Atlas Copco AB; Hitachi Construction Machinery Europe N.V.; Barloworld Holdings plc (United Kingdom); Alfairuz Trading and Contracting Company L.L.C; Bilia AB.
- "Carrefour Looks to Sell Auto Repair Shops," DSN Retail Fax, December 23, 2002, p. 2.
- "Commission Clears France's Feu Vert Stake in Spanish Car Repair Firm, Autocenter Delauto," European Report, September 13, 2000, p. 346.
- "Feu Vert fete ses trenet ans," Autoactu, April 5, 2002.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.72. St. James Press, 2005.