Sonepar is an independent family-owned French company that today it is a global market leader in electrical products and B2B distribution of related services.
With 45,000 employees, an annual turnover of € 23 billion, 100 operational companies and 2,800 branches , it is present in 40 countries.
Foundation of Sonepar
Today’s Sonepar has come a long way, but the group’s spirit of initiative was constant throughout. The story dates back to 1867 to when the Coisne and Lambert families set up their businesses in the textile industry, and it has been active for almost 100 years.
The two families carried the company from generation to generation. The turning point followed in the 1960s. 11 Coisne and Lambert family members set up a company called Société de Négoce et de Participation (Sonepar), which was intended to manage a number of others outside the textile industry area and related investments in which the company worked with. A few years later, Henri Coisne realized that the there are great opportunities in the electricity market. In 1968 received authorization to expand the company, so in 1969 the aquisition of a French company called Comptoir d’Électricité Franco-Belge, Sonepar entered the electricity market.
Thanks to successive acquisitions, Sonepar has began to develop in France. The company’s special family ownership and special corporate culture helped to stand out from French and later European and then international competitors.
This solid foundation has been steadily strengthening over the decades and even today.
“What counts is what lasts.”
A global market leader from France
In 1977, Sonepar’s 1,275 employees achieved full coverage in France. During this period, the company has 57 branches and it had 50,000 customers. In 1982, internationalization has began.
Expand in Europe: Germany, the Netherlands, and later bought in Spain, Italy, and Belgium up companies. In 1998, with the acquisition of NorthEast Electrical Distributors the company also began operations in the US. It was also the year when the founder’s daughter Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette became the Sonepar Group President. Over the next 10 years, Sonepar has grown and strengthened presence year after year on all continents (Great Britain, India, Colombia, Peru, Thailand, New Zealand). For new acquisitions as well as for sustainable development thanks to this, the United States has become the Group's largest market.
In 2020, Sonepar is one of the most significant players in the industry. The company celebrated its 50th birthday last year.
“And to last, we need to adapt.”
Henri Coisne and Léopold Lambert
Business partnership between the Coisne and Lambert families in northern France.
Société de Négoce et de Participation
Eleven Coisne and Lambert family members join together to create Sonepar, a holding company for their non-textile holdings. Henri Coisne...
Start of an acquisition policy
Over the decade, Sonepar buys up electrical material distributors in several parts of France.
Expansion in Europe
Buyout of a group of companies in Germany and the Netherlands, followed by expansion into Spain, Italy and Belgium.
Full national coverage in France
Sonepar Distribution covers 100% of mainland France. Entry into the Canadian market.
Number one provider in France
Acquisition of CGE Distribution, France’s leading electrical equipment distributor.
Change at the top
Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette is appointed Group Chairman. Sonepar gains a foothold in the United States.
10 billion Euros
Rexel and Sonepar divide up the assets of Hagemeyer (then the world’s third leading provider). Sonepar futher extends its network in Europe,...
Strategic strengthening of the integrated supply chain business
Buyout of IDG in the US, to become Vallen in 2016.
Sonepar as global leader
Sonepar does business in 44 countries through 170 operating companies. Its 46,000 associates around the world generate sales of €22.4...