The teams at Verallia’s Cognac facility celebrated this Saturday, June 9th, the plant’s 55th anniversary during an open day for the families of the site’s 500 employees and subcontractors. The day, organized with the active participation of all the site’s teams, gathered over 300 visitors.
On the day’s agenda: guided tour of the plant, photo exhibition highlighting the team’s glassmaking know-how and solidarity, various activities run by the employees and glassmakers’ sports associations (hiking, cycling and motorbikes, initiation to bowling…), “collections and passions” big tent where each person was able to present their hobby (collections, glass engraving demonstration…), planting of a tree and country evening.
“Our ambition is to be a benchmark glass plant and we have all the trump cards in our hands to get there: the love of the glassmaking profession, the attachment to our plant, solidarity, strong human relations and a positioning at the hearts of our markets. I would like to thank all the plant’s teams for their involvement and our customers whose trust is binding on all of us” commented Christian Garnaud, the plant manager, during the event.
In 1878, Claude Boucher, a 36-year old inventor and self-made man, originally from Cognac, founded the Faubourg Saint-Martin glass plant in Cognac. He installed his invention there: a mechanized glass-blowing machine. His idea in fact was to put an end to the harsh working conditions of the operators who were blowing down rods with their mouths to produce bottles. Many French and foreign firms bought the patent to make Claude Boucher’s machine (Great-Britain, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Chile, Cuba, Argentina, etc.). In the 1930s, the Boucher machine was replaced by the more competitive IS machine (named after its inventors Ingle and Smith).
In 1919, the Claude Boucher glass factory was acquired by Saint-Gobain. In 1960, the business decided to combine three of the group’s glass plants – Arlac (33), Angers (49) and Cognac (16) – on a single site at Châteaubernard, close to Cognac. The Verrerie de l’Ouest started in 1963.
In 2015, Saint-Gobain sold its packaging division – called Verallia since 2011 – to Apollo et Bpifrance.
Today, with its three furnaces which produce up to two million bottles a day, the Cognac site mainly serves three markets:
- Still wines: green colour, South-West regions (Bordelais, Anjou, etc.),
- Some sparkling wines: ciders in particular,
- Cognacs and spirits: extra-flint colour, required by most Cognac houses, regardless of their size and their positioning.
Verallia, a manufacturing group entirely dedicated to glass packaging, is solidly anchored in Charente where it employs around 430 people on four manufacturing sites (glass plant, household glass treatment facility Everglass, René Salomon facilities, Société Charentaise de Décor acquired in April 2017).