In 2022, Bouygues celebrated its seventieth anniversary. Seven decades during which a fledgling construction company grew into a diversified, multinational group whose vital resource is the 200,000 women and men who work for it. Here we have selected some high points of this remarkable story, in which the notion of family has had a key role.
By Céline de Buttet, Laura Franchet, Isabelle Godar, and Grâce Noyal
Entreprise Francis Bouygues (EFB), an industrial works and building construction company is founded in the Paris region.
Stim (Société technique immobilière), which will become Bouygues Immobilier in 1985, is founded.
The Compagnons du Minorange guild is founded.
The internal magazine Le Minorange publishes it first issue.
Entreprise Francis Bouygues is listed on the Paris stock exchange.
Entreprise Francis Bouygues changes its name to Bouygues and adopts a new logo designed by Alain Carré. Construction of the Olympic complex in Tehran signals the launch of international activities.
Bouygues Offshore, a petroleum services company, is founded (it will be sold in 2002).
Francis Bouygues is named Manager of the Year by the magazine
Le Nouvel Économiste.
Saur, a provider of water production, distribution, and wastewater treatment services, is acquired (it will be sold in 2006).
Screg is acquired. In 2013, Screg, Sacer, and Colas are united under the name Colas.
TF1 is acquired.
Martin Bouygues becomes Chairman and CEO of the Group.
The Grands Moulins de Paris, France’s No. 1 flour mill and frozen pastry manufacturer is acquired (it is sold in 1998).
Bouygues Telecom is founded.
Bouygues Construction is spun off.
Bouygues becomes Alstom’s majority shareholder (since 2021, it has had a 0.16% shareholding).
Martin Bouygues remains Chairman of the Group, and Olivier Roussat is named CEO.
A promise to purchase is signed with Engie for the acquisition of Equans.
Equans is integrated into the Group.
OM OR PSG?
The Group built the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris between 1969 and 1972 (its shape inspired the Bouygues logo) and renovated the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille between 2011 and 2014. Maisons Bouygues (founded in 1978 and sold in 1990) was for a time a sponsor of the Olympique de Marseille. But no playing favorites! In 1997 Bouygues delivered the Stade de France, where France won the World Cup the following year.
ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESS
The Group bought Screg, which included Colas and Smac, in 1986. The Group’s largest acquisition up to then, it created a new Business Segment and made Bouygues the world’s biggest construction company.
A TALE OF TWO BRIDGES
The Group has constructed two exceptional bridges in France: one at the Île de Ré in 1988, which is the second-longest in the country (2,900 m), and the other in Normandy in 1994. The latter’s 856-m central span set a record at the time.
On 24 June 1994, TF1 launched LCI, France’s first rolling news channel. In December of that year, it gained a following with its live reporting of the Air France Flight 8969 hijacking and the freeing of the hostages by the French anti-terrorism unit. LCI began broadcasting 24 hours a day in 1996.
With their respective units UrbanEra and Linkcity, Bouygues Immobilier and Bouygues Construction are now positioned in the sustainable urban development market. At Marseille, the eco-neighborhood Les Fabriques combines offices, retail, and housing, with 70% of energy supplied by local renewable sources: seawater heat recovery and waste heat recovery.
COLAS ON THE RIGHT TRACK
In 2008, Colas merged Spie Rail and Seco-Rail to create Colas Rail. In 2022, the rail infrastructure construction and maintenance company is present in 20 countries and employs 5,600 people worldwide.
THE OFFICE NEXT DOOR
On 1 June 2015, Bouygues Immobilier’s first coworking space opened in Issy-les-Moulineaux. This business is being run by Wojo, a 50-50 joint venture with the Accor group.
CLIMATE A PRIORITY
The Group has been striving for several years to reduce its carbon footprint. In 2020, it adopted a Climate Strategy designed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% to 50%, depending on the Business Segment and the scopes, in line with the Paris Agreement.
a MAGAZINE FOR THE GROUP
In 1963, Francis Bouygues launched Le Minorange, one of France’s oldest internal magazines. Its sole aim from the beginning is to highlight the Group’s businesses and the people who work for them.
ON THE AIR
In 1987, Bouygues acquired the television channel TF1, which at the time had a 40% audience share in France. On handing a check for 3 billion francs to finance minister Edouard Balladur, Francis Bouygues joked that it was “the largest check ever signed by an Auvergnat.”
Between 1985 and 1993, Bouygues took part in the construction of the 50-km Channel Tunnel, of which 37 km is under the sea. The Group now has globally recognized expertise, with numerous innovations to its credit. In 2016, it had as many as 14 tunnel boring machines – a record number – working in projects!
BOUYGUES ON THE BIG SCREEN
In 1980, TF1 diversified into the movie business with a new company, TF1 Films Production. Some of its biggest hits are The little indian (1994), Les Trois Frères (1995), Welcome to the sticks (2008), The Upside (2011), Lucy (2014), and recently, Aline (2020).
21 YEARS ON THE POSTS
The first season of Koh-Lanta aired on TF1 in 2001. This program presented by Denis Brogniart scored its top audience rating of more than 9 million viewers during an episode in 2007.
IT’S IN THE BOX
In 2007, Bouygues Telecom became the owner of its DSL network, enabling it to create its first Internet router. Following a mad year of preparations by about 300 employees, the operator launched Bbox and officially became an Internet access provider.
Bouygues Immobilier launched Green Office, a new offering of positive-energy buildings, in 2011. After an initial project in Meudon, numerous others have followed, including at Nanterre, Rueil-Malmaison, and Issy-les-Moulineaux, now the home of Bouygues Immobilier’s headquarters.
VertigO A LA thaï
Since 2016, the pixelated silhouette of the King Power Mahanakhon has towered above the city of Bangkok. Erected by Bouygues Thai, this 314-m skyscraper is the tallest ever built by Bouygues Construction.
In 1965, Bouygues was the first company to hire a female civil engineer.
“Women are considered a phenomenon in this field, so naturally they are at a disadvantage starting out and don’t think of going in this direction,” says Gisèle Picaud. In 2017, the Group initiated a gender diversity plan, setting two main objectives for 2023: 20% of managers and 30% of governance bodies would be women, compared with 17% and 20%, respectively, in 2021.
A NEW LOOK FOR THE CENTRAL MARKET
In 1975, Bouygues undertook a spectacular urban development project in central Paris: the construction of the Forum des Halles shopping mall and an underground metro/commuter train station on the former site of the wholesale produce market. The second phase, an esplanade in front of the Saint-Eustache church, was delivered in 1985. Martin Bouygues worked as a manager’s assistant in the project.
SERVICES COME ON THE SCENE
In 1984, Bouygues acquired ETDE, adding another arrow to its quiver: services. The company changed its name to Bouygues Energies & Services in 2013.
NO WAIT… HELLO, WHAT?
In 1998, Bouygues Telecom rolled out the first mobile call plan, priced at 175 francs per month for two hours of calls within France. The third mobile operator, it was a troublemaker who opened an elitist market to a broad public. In 1998, its coverage reached 90% of the French population, and it had soon signed up over one million subscribers.
The world’s biggest bitumen buyer, Colas stores, transports, and markets this raw material with a network of 71 storage terminals and a fleet of eight bitumen carriers, two river barges, and 200 rail cars. The company is also a leader in the transformation of bitumen, with 151 emulsion and modified binder plants.
SUPPORT BEYOND THE CLASSROOM
Since 2005, 1,189 students of 50 nationalities who were struggling financially to continue their education received grants from the Francis Bouygues Foundation along with support from a mentor, many of whom were from the Group.
Records AT HONG KONG
Dragages Hong Kong teamed up with Bouygues Travaux Publics to put the world’s largest tunnel boring machine (17.6 m in diameter) to work building the 5-km Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok road tunnel. And with VSL, another Bouygues Construction subsidiary, to deliver the 55-km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge, the longest ever built by Bouygues.
In 2018, Bouygues Telecom’s dancing dad Christmas video became a smash global hit viewed 54 million times in barely a month.
GRAND PLAN FOR PARIS
Bouygues Construction, Bouygues Immobilier, and Colas are working in Grand Paris, a vast urban development program that will reshape and rebalance the Paris metropolitan area, and in Grand Paris Express (four new metro lines and a Line 14 extension). Projects will be completed between 2024 and 2030.