The entrepreneurial spirit and conqueror of the Sonepar Group has been a constant throughout the 50 years of its history.
The origins of the company go back to 1867, when the textile weaving business of the Coisne and Lambert family was established in the north of France. In the early 1960s, shareholders belonging to the fourth generation of the Coisne and Lambert families created la Societé de Négocie et de Participation – a new company dedicated to managing the Group’s activity outside its primary textile business.
The first investment in Distribution of electrical equipment was in 1969, with the acquisition of le Comptoir d’Electricité Franco-Belge, a leader in the Ile-de-France region. Henri Coisne was quick to realize the sector’s potential and Sonepar began to grow and develop rapidly across France through to regional acquisitions.
The company has always placed a high value on flexibility and adaptability. It is thanks to this approach that, as Sonepar has matured, it has continued to foster a global strategy that works in tandem with its decentralized subsidiaries, offering them local autonomy. This ethos of “cross-fertilization” has been key to Sonepar's success: the ability for global to learn from local.
The confidence Sonepar has always placed in its employees, in their skills and knowledge, is another pillar of success. The Group acts with cultural respect, showing understanding by the variation in its different companies and maintaining an open dialogue. It is at the same time an international Group and a family business, still based in Paris, but with companies all around the world.
From France to the world
In 1977, Sonepar had 57 sales outlets and 50,000 customers in France. Looking beyond the borders, in 1982 the company expanded by Europe with the acquisition of Otra, market leader in Netherlands and Germany. This was the beginning of Sonepar's internationalization.
Fifteen years after its entry into the electricity distribution market, in 1984 Sonepar reached coverage in 100% of mainland France. In 1991, already number one in France, the Group acquired Lumen, in Canada, a first venture into the North American market. With the acquisition of NorthEast Electrical Distributors in 1998, Sonepar established itself in the United States. This was also the year that the founder’s daughter, Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette assumed the presidency of the Group.
New frontiers were opened by Sonepar in the year 2000. The company expanded to the Asian market by acquiring Supermoon in Hong Kong, as well as in Central America and Mexico. In 2002, through the expansion to Brazil, through Emel, the Group entered another significant market – South America.
Already in 2008, Sonepar joined Rexel to acquire Hagemeyer, number 3 in distribution of electrical materials. The company's product offering and range of services and solutions expanded, creating new opportunities and consolidating Sonepar's presence in 35 countries. 10 years later, growth was constant and Sonepar strengthened its presence on all continents: from Great Britain to India, via Colombia and Peru, Thailand, New Zealand and more. The United States has become the Group's largest market thanks to a series of new acquisitions, such as Codale, QED and Eck Supply.
In 2019, Sonepar is one of the largest actors in its sector. The company celebrates its 50th anniversary with a strong focus on the future and a solid grasp of where markets will go next – and how the company will adapt, in turn.
Sonepar follows its trajectory, always drawing on the collective experience of its family shareholders, with the ability to combine internal and external growth and seize the opportunities that arise. The company aims to deliver the highest value added to its customers around the world, while drives technological innovation to serve new markets including smart buildings, connected and intelligent lighting solutions, and renewable energy.