The current site of the Savonnerie, which was built in 1870, was once a mill fed by the waters of the Aygalades stream. It was in turn a flour mill and a semolina factory. In the mid-20th century the site was operated by a certain Mr Garbit, an avid herbalist who became an entrepreneur. His company also owns the Savonnerie du Midi, which was then based in the Canet neighbourhood of northern Marseille. The Savonnerie’s facilities were transferred to the Aygalades site in 1970.
The Savonnerie du Midi still draws on the talents of a master soap maker to manufacture its traditional Marseille soap.
INNOVATION IN A CONTEXT OF CONTINUITY
When the Savonnerie was founded in 1894 there were three brands: Aubépine, Aigle Blanc and La Corvette. The first two lasted until the late 1980s, whilst the third – which can be recognised by its navy blue logo depicting an 18th century sailing ship – is still sold today. Indeed, La Corvette represents 120 years of the Savonnerie’s history in a single soap.
The PRODEF group is a historic player in the hygiene and cleaning products industry, and has owned the Savonnerie du Midi since 2013. Since PRODEF was founded in 1924, four generations of directors have backed its growth based on a single ambition: to continually improve the quality of life of its fellow citizens, foreshadowing what we now call sustainable development.
By putting innovation at the centre of its strategy, the group has created or developed many historic brands that are familiar to the general public both in France and overseas. These include the Solitaire range of cleaning products, Lion Noir polishes, Ideal dye and Opalor, the first powder detergent for dishwashers.
PRODEF’s acquisition of the Savonnerie du Midi via La Compagnie du Midi marks its commitment to cultural heritage and reinforces the values that have shaped its history spanning 90 years: innovating, acting on behalf of the environment and enhancing human expertise.
1894: Foundation of the « Savonnerie du Midi » factory in the 14th district of Marseille and lauching of La Corvette brand.
1970: Transfer of the factory to the current production site in the 15th district of Marseille.
1990: La Savonnerie du Midi innovates by being the first Savonnerie to offer liquid soap.
1994: La Savonnerie du Midi joins Chimitex, a French company specialized in professional cleaning products since 1973.
1995: Creation of the Maître Savon de Marseille brand, and roll-out in supermarkets.
2005: ISO 9001 version 2000 certification.
2007: Reinforcement of a organic commitment : »Plaisir Bio », Maitre Savon de Marseille’s cosmetic range is labelized by ECOCERT (referential of ecological and biological cosmetics).
2011: La Savonnerie du Midi founded with 3 other establishments the UPSM, the Union of Soap Professionals of Marseille, to defend and promote the traditional Marseille soap.
2013: La Savonnerie du Midi and Chimitex – now Compagnie du Midi- join PRODEF, a French family group specialized in hygiene and maintenance products for 4 generations.
2014: La Savonnerie du Midi celebrates 120 years of existence and launches a renovation program of its production site: restoration of buildings and renovation of its cauldrons.
2017: La Savonnerie du Midi wins a price for Responsible Consumption Industries in the category « Sustainable consumption methods » by the ESSEC Grand Prix.
2018: La Savonnerie du Midi opens to the public with its Museum dedicated to Marseille Soap and its factory shop.