January 09, 2015 | SHANGHAI, China

Saint-Gobain: 350 Years, 350 Reasons To Believe In The Future

This year, Saint-Gobain is celebrating its 350th anniversary. An exceptional anniversary that the Group will mark by promoting its history, but with its sights set firmly on the future, throughout 2015, year that will be packed full of events. The celebrations began on the 9th of January in Shanghai (China) and will end in October in Paris (France).


Since its creation in 1665 by King Louis XIV and Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the oldest company in the Paris Bourse's CAC 40 index, has adapted to the changes in the world and taken up the many challenges it has faced. Backed by this experience and its corporate culture, Saint-Gobain has its sights resolutely set on tomorrow, and knows that there are many "reasons to believe" that are based on the six central pillars in its strategy and the Group's values.

The world has no boundaries: Since it opened its first establishment outside France, in Germany in the 1850s, Saint-Gobain has grown into an international group that is present today in 64 countries.

Sustainable habitat is within our reach: Saint-Gobain provides sustainable products and solutions to direct the course of habitat in order to reduce its impact on the environment, improve its energy efficiency and occupants' comfort.

Innovation is transforming the world: Saint-Gobain is one of the world's 100 most innovative companies. Innovation is embedded in its history and its identity. Its products improve habitat and everyday life.

Talent is infinite: Saint-Gobain's strength is its employees. United behind a foundation of shared values, each day, they take up multiple challenges serving the Group's millions of customers.

Habitat for everyone is achievable: Saint-Gobain is committed to habitat for everyone by inventing materials adapted to local markets, and through its Saint-Gobain Initiatives Foundation.

Saint-Gobain builds on the past and plans for the future: For 350 years, the Group has been reinventing itself to adapt to and support the world's changes.

"This anniversary is an opportunity and an occasion to remind everyone of the strength that is acquired through 350 years of history and 350 years of ongoing innovations. Our experience means we understand and focus on the long term. It also gives us the composure and agility to adapt to the ever-changing world. Our history is proof that we are a company that has consistently pushed back boundaries and taken up technological challenges. As we look back over our past and examine today's world and what we do, we are convinced that there are many reasons to believe in the future. So, it is with our sights set on the future and innovation that we are celebrating this anniversary. It is our optimism that we want to share with you in 2015," says Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and CEO of Saint-Gobain.


On January 9, 2015, Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and CEO of Saint-Gobain launched in Shanghai the Group's 350-year celebrations, which will include numerous high points:

  • Futuristic traveling pavilions open to the public will showcase the Group's capacity for innovation and its exceptional expertise in construction materials. They will tour the world and provide a sensory and artistic experience for visitors: 

       o   In Shanghai (China) in January
       o   In São Paulo (Brazil) in April
       o   In Philadelphia (United States) in June
       o   In Paris (France) in October.

  • virtual exhibition in five languages (French, English, German, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese) will be published online in February. With more than 700 archival documents, Saint-Gobain will give everyone the opportunity to explore, or rediscover its history via previously unseen documents and personal accounts. The exhibition will allow visitors to enter a gallery of habitat innovations, to discover six in-depth thematic sections (Transformation of Material; From Advertising to Marketing; Saint-Gobain throughout the World; Major Achievements; The Word of Work; Corporate Governance and Culture), and to experience, thanks to a spectacular 3D reconstruction of the Manufacture des Glaces, mirror glassworks as they would have been on the eve of the French Revolution. Visitors will also be able to contribute to the exhibition by uploading onto the site their own documents and personal experiences.
  • An anniversary book, connected to the virtual exhibition with QR codes and translated into five languages (French, English, German, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese), will be published by Editions Albin Michel in the spring. This book looks at the Group's past and present and will provide an opportunity to learn more about Saint-Gobain in a different way.
  • The World 350 game available in the spring as a free download for smartphones and tablets. World 350 will enable players to test their digital skills and to challenge their friends and family to enter an offbeat world where they will come across subtle allusions to Saint-Gobain. Their task is to build houses on planet World 350.
  • Lastly, an anniversary day that will be celebrated by all Group employees worldwide, on October 15. This anniversary day will exemplify the ties between all Saint-Gobain employees.


Saint-Gobain's history is marked by an ongoing movement towards diversification and refocusing. Despite that, the Group has the distinction of having retained its original business – the manufacture of flat glass – even if it now only accounts for 11 percent of its revenue. Other distinctive features include the tradition of innovation and early internationalization.

Louis XIV, under the impetus of his Minister Colbert, created the mirror glassworks (La Manufacture royale des glaces) designed to defy Venice's supremacy for the manufacture of mirrors.

Mirrors became fashionable and increasingly affordable. Benefiting from royal and personal orders, the Manufacture, which employed more than 1,000 workers, modernized and enjoyed growing prosperity throughout the century.

Confronted with strong international competition, Saint-Gobain diversified into chemicals. By the end of the century, its business was split evenly between chemicals and glassmaking. The Manufacture then benefited from the rapid rise in a new form of architecture based on iron and steel, mainly for large public buildings: markets, stations, arcades, etc.

By now, Saint-Gobain had turned its attention to all types of glass products (bottles, optical glass, glass fiber, etc.). The automobile revolution and modern architecture with its vast expanses of glazed surfaces provided the company with new outlets. In 1970, Saint-Gobain merged with cast iron pipe manufacturer Pont-à-Mousson. This led to a new style of management, nationalization (1982) followed by privatization (1986), increased efforts in research, the arrival of new countries, and a time for divestitures and acquisitions. Major acquisitions included Norton in 1990, which positioned Saint-Gobain in high-technology-content materials (abrasives, ceramics and plastics). The acquisition of Poliet (Point.P, Lapeyre and Weber) in 1996 allowed the company to enter the world of building distribution materials (45 percent of its net sales in 2013).

Saint-Gobain has focused its strategy on sustainable habitat while continuing to serve its many industrial markets. Leveraging its many sites around the world, the Group is continuing to grow in emerging countries, and it is making significant acquisitions to extend its building materials distribution network in Europe and to complete its product portfolio (the acquisition of British Plaster Board in 2005 - gypsum and plasterboard - and Maxit in 2007 – industrial mortars).

In 2015, Saint-Gobain is celebrating its 350th anniversary, 350 reasons to believe in the future. Backed by its experience and its capacity to continuously innovate, Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction market, designs, manufactures and distributes high-performance and building materials providing innovative solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. With 2013 sales of €42 billion, Saint-Gobain operates in 64 countries and has nearly 190,000 employees. For more information about Saint-Gobain, visit  and the twitter account @saintgobain.

Saint-Gobain Worldwide:
Sophie Chevallon
+33 (0)1 47 62 30 48

Susanne Trabitzsch
+33 (0)1 47 62 43 25