LDC History

Zone Industrielle Saint Laurent,
Sable sur Sarthe

Telephone: (33) 2 43 62 70 00
Fax: (33) 2 43 92 34 18

Public Company
Incorporated: 1869
Employees: 10,000
Sales: EUR 1.49 billion ($1.86 billion) (2004)
Stock Exchanges: Euronext Paris
Ticker Symbol: LOUP
NAIC: 311615 Poultry Processing; 311612 Meat Processed From Carcasses; 311412 Frozen Specialty Food Manufacturing; 311611 Animal (Except Poultry) Slaughtering

Company Perspectives:

A strategy built on three key points: Poultry in France: increasing the value of our products in order to respond to new consumer habits. Poultry International: duplicate the strength of the French model by associating integrated supply lines and value-added products. Prepared Foods: develop this pole and achieve profitability by modernizing and specializing sites, and by building positions in promising and complementary segments.

Key Dates:

August Lambert establishes a poultry slaughtering and processing facility for Loué poultry farmers.
Lambert SA merges with Dodard-Chancereul to form Lambert-Dodard-Chancereul (LDC).
LDC constructs modern slaughtering and processing facility in Saint-Laurent in Sablé sur Sarthe.
LDC creates subsidiary Cavol to take over the processing of Loué poultry and begins processing chicken parts.
Mathey, renamed as LDC Bourgogne, is acquired as part of national expansion strategy.
Serandour, renamed as LDC Bretagne, is acquired.
LDC purchases Bidou, renamed as LDC Aquitaine, and builds a new facility for the preparation of fresh and cooked prepared foods.
The company begins the production of turkey products.
La Toque Angevine is acquired as part of LDC's diversification in the prepared foods market.
LDC goes public with a secondary market listing on Euronext Paris and acquires a stake in Hermanos Saiz (Spain).
The company enters Poland with the acquisition of 97 percent of Drosed.
LDC acquires Huttepain SA, a producer of live poultry with five slaughtering and processing sites.
Regalette, a producer of crepes, and Spain's Avilaves Gredos are acquired.
LDC becomes the leading European poultry products producer.

Company History:

LDC is now Europe's leading poultry processor after edging out fellow French rival Doux Père Dodu in 2004. Moreover, LDC has long held the leading position in France's poultry market, slaughtering more than 500,000 tons of chicken, turkey, and duck, as well as rabbit, per week. LDC markets poultry products under a number of brand names, including national brands Loué and Le Gaulois and regional brands Bourgogne, Bretagne, Landes, Ardèche, Normadie, Gascogne, which reflect the group's nationally operating network of slaughtering and processing facilities. Since the 1990s, LDC has extended its operations to include a variety of prepared foods and is the fifth-largest company of this kind in France. In this segment, the company produces pizza, deli meats, sauces, ready-made sandwiches and snacks, and cooked dishes. These products are distributed through its own range of brands, including Loué and Le Gaulois, as well as under private label and distributor brands. The company is also one of France's leading producers of prepared ethnic foods, notably Chinese-style food products under the Chip Long brand. Long focused on France, LDC has begun extending its successful growth strategy to the international market, focused for a start on Spain and Poland. The company also has two production partnerships in China. Altogether, the company operates 28 production sites supplied by more than 6,000 poultry farmer partners. In 2004, international sales already represented some 16 percent of the group's nearly EUR 1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in sales. LDC is led by Denis Lambert, son of the company's founder. The Lamberts remained the publicly listed company's largest shareholder, with nearly 42 percent of shares.

Joining Forces in the 1960s

Auguste Lambert led a group of Loué-area poultry farmers in building a poultry slaughtering facility in 1959. That company, SA Lambert, based in Sablé sur Sarthe, grew into a strong regionally operating business throughout the next decade. The rise of France's first generation of regional and national supermarket groups during that period offered new possibilities for expansion. In 1968, Lambert joined up with another poultry processed, SA Dodard Chancereul, which operated in the Mayenne region in the village of Saint Denis d'Anjou.

The combined company was called Lambert-Dodard-Chancereul (LDC). With its extended geographic reach and strong production capacity, LDC was able to develop a strong relationship with the growing distribution groups. The combined operation was also able to raise financing for the construction of a new, larger, and modern slaughtering facility in the Saint Laurent zone of Sablé sur Sarthe. The company continued to expand that site and by the turn of the century was processing more than 500,000 chickens, turkeys, ducks, and rabbits there each week.

LDC's production remained focused on its traditional segment of dressed poultry through the 1970s. By the end of that decade, however, LDC moved to expand into the market for conditioned poultry and expanded its site to include processing lines for packaged wings, breasts, and thighs.

LCD reached a significant milestone in 1980, the year it created its first subsidiary, SA Cavol, and built a new production site dedicated to slaughtering and processing Loué poultry. The Loué brand quickly gained a reputation for high quality and grew into France's leading poultry brand.

The creation of the Loué brand led to a decade of fast growth for the company. The rapid dominance of France's retail scene by the large-scale distribution groups provided LDC with a ready market for its products. In order to meet the demand, the company launched a drive to expand its national coverage. LDC made its first acquisition in 1984, acquiring SA Mathey, in Louhans, in Saône-et-Loire, which was subsequently renamed LDC Bourgogne. Four years later, LDC targeted the Brittany region, acquiring a stake in SA Serandour, based in Lanfains, in the Côtes d'Armor department. LDC's initial stake stood at 35 percent; by the end of the 1990s, LDC had acquired full control of what became known as LDC Bretagne.

Diversifying in the 1990s

LDC continued acquiring scale into the 1990s. In 1989, the company added operations in Maine-et-Loire with the purchase of SA Guillet. The following year, the company added poultry processor Bidou, based in Bazas, which formed the foundation of its subsidiary LDC Aquitaine. In 1991, the company acquired SA Plamid'or, based in Saône-et-Loire. That acquisition boosted LDC's slaughtering and processing capacity for its duck and rabbit segments. Also in 1991, LDC established a new logistics subsidiary, SA CEPA (for Centre d'Expédition de Produits Alimentaires) in Sablé sur Sarthe. This gave the company a distribution platform capable of serving all of France.

The changing food habits of French consumers and their growing adoption of prepared and ready-to-eat foods led LDC into diversifying its operations in the 1990s. In 1990, the company decided to invest in developing the capacity to produce breaded poultry products and other prepared foods, constructing a new production facility in Sablé sur Sarthe that specialized in both cooked and uncooked prepared foods. LDC then launched its Le Gaulois brand, which quickly conquered the French market and became the country's leading poultry-based prepared foods brand. As a result, LDC was forced to make several expansions to its latest facility, tripling its production volume from the initial 10,000 tons per day.

LDC continued seeking new diversification opportunities. In 1991, for example, the company launched a new 50-50 joint-venture, SA Bressane de Production, for the breeding of live poultry livestock. The company also branched out into the slaughtering and processing of turkeys with the construction of a dedicated facility in 1993. In that year, the company also joined in the launch of a new joint venture for the production of foie gras, SA Foie Gras de Maine. The company raised its initial stake of 24.5 percent to 75.5 percent in 1997.

Into the mid-1990s, LDC sought to extend its operations beyond the poultry market. In 1994, the company acquired La Toque Angevine, based in Maine et Loire, which specialized in fresh pizzas and other deli products. LDC now sought to establish itself as a leading producer of prepared foods in France. The acquisition of Atlantic Traiteur Innovation in Herbignac in the Loire Atlantique in 1997 brought LDC closer to that goal. In the same year, LDC purchased of a stake in SOPRAT, which held a leading position in France for prepared Chinese and other ethnic foods under the Chip Long brand name. In 2000, the company boosted its prepared foods unit with the purchase of Européenne de Plats Cuisinés, based in the Sarthe region, adding to the company's range of fresh foods and sauces.

European Leader in the 2000s

LDC had already begun to explore new horizons for the new century. In 1995, the company went public, listing its stock on the Paris Bourse's secondary market. By then, the company's sales neared FRF 2.5 billion (approximately $450 million). The public offering enabled the company to make its first international acquisition with the purchase of a 40 percent stake in Madrid-based Hermanos Saiz, a poultry products processor. LDC raised its stake in its Spanish subsidiary to 98 percent in 1999.

In 1997, LDC's international strategy brought it to China, where it launched two joint ventures in Shandong Province and oversaw construction of a new slaughtering and processing facility with a capacity of 10,000 tons per year. In that year, the company also acquired the poultry slaughtering operations of France's Fléchard group. That acquisition alone added nearly FRF 800,000 to the LDC's sales. By the end of 1998, the company's sales had nearly doubled, topping FRF 4.6 billion ($900 million).

LDC next turned its attention to raising its profile in Europe. In 2000, the company turned to Poland, the largest of the next round of countries slated to join the European Union. There, LDC acquired a 97 percent stake in Drosed, that country's leading poultry processor.

Back in France, the company acquired another family-controlled company, Huttepain SA, in 2001. Huttepain's primary business involved producing live poultry livestock. The company also owned five slaughtering and processing facilities, and an egg distribution business. The acquisition also strengthened LDC's position in Poland, where Huttepain controlled a company producing poultry feed. The addition of Huttepain helped boost the company's total sales from EUR 1.05 billion in 2001 ($900 million) to nearly EUR 1.35 billion ($1.1 billion) in 2002.

Already the poultry leader in France, LDC was rapidly gaining on its chief rival, Doux Père Dodu, which, with its own international expansion, had become Europe's leading poultry group. LDC continued to grow through acquisitions, buying control of Avilaves Gredos, based in Avila, Spain. In that year, also, the company acquired Regalette, a producer of crepes and crepe-based prepared foods.

By the end of 2004, LDC had overtaken Doux Père Dodu, claiming the spot as Europe's number one producer of poultry and poultry products. Led by Denis Lambert, son of the company's founder, LDC announced its intention to pursue its international expansion, especially in Europe, while continuing to diversify its line of prepared foods products. LDC expected to join the ranks of the world's major food groups in the 21st century.

Principal Subsidiaries: Groupe Drosed (Poland); La Gamme (Poland); S.A. Huttepain Aliments; S.A. Toque Angevine; S.A.S. Cavol (96,59 %); S.A.S. Foie Gras Du Maine (75.52 %); S.A.S. Guillet; S.A.S. Guillot Cobreda; S.A.S. Ldc Aquitaine; S.A.S. Ldc Bourgogne; S.A.S. See Guillot Cobreda; S.A.S.U. Alimab; S.A.S.U. Ardevol; S.A.S.U. Atlantic Traiteur Innovation; S.A.S.U. Bressane De Production; S.A.S.U. Cepa; S.A.S.U. Europeenne De Plats Cuisines; S.A.S.U. Ldc Bretagne; S.A.S.U. Ldc Traiteur; S.A.S.U. Les Fermiers De L'ardeche; S.A.S.U. Palmid'or; S.A.S.U. Regalette; S.A.S.U. Servais; S.A.S.U. Société Normande De Volaille; S.A.S.U. Sovopa; S.A.S.U. Stam; S.A.S.U. Volabraye; Sarl Tom'pain; Sasu Ldc Sable; Sasu Ldc Volaille; Shandong Fengxiang L.D.C. (China; 35%); Shandong Ldc Fengxiang Food Ltd (China; 45%); Sl. Aves Ldc España; Sl. Avilaves Gredos (Spain); Sl. Hermanos Saiz (Spain).

Principal Competitors: Cargill Inc.; Tyson Foods Inc.; Romsilva RA Regia Autonoma a Padurilor; ConAgra Foods Inc.; Smithfield Foods Inc.; Agricola Super Ltda.; Protinal/Proagro C.A.; Perdigao Agroindustrial S.A.; Orkla ASA; Lambert-Dodard-ChancereulDoux S.A.

Further Reading:

  • "Le bon choix avec Huttepain pour Le Gaulois," Filières Avicoles, January 2003, p. 6.
  • Deschamps, Johan, "Nous attendons une amélioration de nos bénéficies au second semstre," Investir, June 6, 2003.
  • "LDC confirme son ambition au traiteur," Linéaires, July/August 2003, p. 64.
  • "LDC en Espagne," RIA, January 2003, p. 16.
  • "LDC résiste," Télégramme, June 4, 2003.
  • "LDC: No. 1 du palmarès des volaillers," Fiilère Avicoles, May 2004, p. 1.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.68. St. James Press, 2005.