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In 1909, Eug¨¨ne Schueller, a young French chemist, developed a hair dye formula called Aur¨¦ale. Schueller formulated and manufactured his own products, which he then sold to Parisian hairdressers.
On 31 July 1919, Schueller registered his company, the Soci¨¦t¨¦ Française de Teintures Inoffensives pour Cheveux (Safe Hair Dye Company of France). The guiding principles of the company, which eventually became L¡¯Or¨¦al, were research and innovation in the field of beauty.
In 1920, the company employed three chemists. By 1950, the teams were 100 strong; that number reached 1,000 by 1984 and is nearly 2,000 today.
Schueller provided financial support and held meetings for La Cagoule at L'Or¨¦al headquarters. La Cagoule was a violent French fascist-leaning and anti-communist group whose leader formed a political party Mouvement Social R¨¦volutionnaire (MSR, Social Revolutionary Movement) which in Occupied France supported the Vichy collaboration with the Nazis.5 L'Or¨¦al hired several members of the group as executives after World War II, such as Jacques Corr¨¨ze, who served as CEO of the United States operation. This involvement was extensively researched by Michael Bar-Zohar in his book, Bitter Scent.
L¡¯Or¨¦al got its start in the hair-color business, but the company soon branched out into other cleansing and beauty products. L¡¯Or¨¦al currently markets over 500 brands and many thousands of individual products in all sectors of the beauty business: hair colour, permanents, hair styling, body and skin care, cleansers, makeup and fragrances. The company's products are found in a wide variety of distribution channels, from hair salons and perfumeries to hyper - and supermarkets, health/beauty outlets, pharmacies and direct mail.
L¡¯Or¨¦al has six worldwide research and development centres: two in France: Aulnay and Chevilly; one in the U.S.: Clark, New Jersey; one in Japan: Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture; in 2005 one was established in Shanghai, China, and one in India. A future facility in the US will be in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
From 1988 to 1989, L¡¯Or¨¦al controlled the film company Paravision, whose properties included the Filmation and De Laurentiis libraries. StudioCanal acquired the Paravision properties in 1994.
L¡¯Or¨¦al purchased Synth¨¦labo in 1973 to pursue its ambitions in the pharmaceutical field. Synth¨¦labo merged with Sanofi in 1999 to become Sanofi-Synth¨¦labo. Sanofi-Synth¨¦labo merged with Aventis in 2004 to become Sanofi-Aventis.
On 17 March 2006, L'Or¨¦al purchased cosmetics company The Body Shop for £562 million.
L'Or¨¦al's famous advertising slogan is "Because I'm worth it". In the mid 2000s, this was replaced by "Because you're worth it". In late 2009, the slogan was changed again to "Because we're worth it" following motivation analysis and work into consumer psychology of Dr. Maxim Titorenko. The shift to "we" was made to create stronger consumer involvement in L'Or¨¦al philosophy and lifestyle and provide more consumer satisfaction with L'Or¨¦al products. L'Or¨¦al also owns a Hair and Body products line for kids called L'Or¨¦al Kids, the slogan for which is "Because we're worth it too".
In 1987, during the growth years of the mail order business, L'Or¨¦al and 3 Suisses founded Le Club des Cr¨¦ateurs de Beaut¨¦ for mail-order sales of cosmetic products, with brands including Agn¨¨s b., Cosmence and Professeur Christine Poelman among others. In March 2008, L'Or¨¦al acquired 3 Suisse's stake, taking sole control of the company.6 In November 2013, L'Or¨¦al announced that Le Club des Cr¨¦ateurs de Beaut¨¦ would cease activity in the first half of 2014.7
In November 2012, L'Or¨¦al inaugurated the largest factory in the Jababeka Industrial Park, Cikarang, Indonesia, with a total investment of USD$100 million.8 The production will be absorbed 25 percent by domestic market and the rest will be exported. In 2010, significant growth occurred at Indonesia with 61 percent increase of unit sales or 28 percent of net sales.9
On 11 February 2014 it was announced that L'Oreal has sealed a deal worth €3.4bn to buy back 8% of its shares from Swiss consumer goods giant Nestle. As a result of the deal, Nestle¡¯s stake in L¡¯Oreal will be reduced from 29.4pc to 23.29pc while the Bettencourt Meyers family¡¯s stake will increase from 30.6pc to 33.2pc. Nestle has owned a stake in L¡¯Oreal since 1974 when it bought into the company at the request of Liliane Bettencourt, the daughter of the founder of L¡¯Oreal and world's richest woman, who was trying to prevent the French state's intervention in the company.