Since Leroy Merlin was founded in the 1920s, the Adeo Group has kept pace with the various changes in society and helped shape all the major retail sector transformations, to continuously meet inhabitants’ home-related needs. From the invention of free delivery and our shift to an omni-channel approach to our transformation into a platform-based business, discover all the milestones in our 100-year history.
Adeo’s century-long history
France needs to rebuild in the wake of World War I. Adolphe Leroy decides to make good use of the surplus supplies left behind by the Allies. In 1921, he opens the first Stock Américain store in France’s Pas-de-Calais region. In 1923, he passes the reins over to his son, also called Adolphe Leroy, and his daughter-in-law, Rose Merlin. To help inhabitants rebuild their homes, Adolphe Jr. sells building materials directly to consumers – rather than wholesalers – and introduces the first-ever free delivery service. The DIY market grows and so does the small business run by the “Leroy-Merlin” husband and wife team. By the late 1930s, Stock Américain stores have popped up all over the region.
World War II brings business to a halt and the bombing even destroys some of the stores. But when the war is over, it’s time to rebuild again. Adolphe procures more merchandise, opens three warehouses and starts selling entire homes. Business flourishes.
France needs more housing to cope with the baby boom. The first supermarkets open and the retail industry changes. It’s a time of leisure and pleasure. And consumer spending sores. To usher in the new era, the Leroy sons give their business a new name. Leroy-Merlin sells “everything under one roof” – from homeware and crockery to DIY and electrical appliances – in an innovative new self-service format. Price, choice and service remain top priorities. And to extend its customer base to families, the brand launches its first slogan, inspired by the legend of Merlin the Magician.
The Leroy-Merlin story continues, with a network of more than 30 stores. But the post-war boom has come to an end and the times are slowly changing. The business runs into difficulties and the Leroy brothers look for a partner. Association Familiale Mulliez (AFM) acquires 50% of the company’s capital in 1979 and the remaining 50% in 1981.
It’s time for an overhaul. Leroy-Merlin streamlines its product ranges, refocuses on DIY, takes a chance on interior design and decoration, and develops the “No parking, no business” concept – with great results! It’s also a time for sharing. After the introduction of profit sharing and performance bonuses, employees become shareholders of the company in 1986. They contribute to and benefit from the company’s results. Sharing knowledge, ability and ownership becomes not just a policy but a key component of Leroy-Merlin’s corporate identity.
It’s a time of expansion. Leroy-Merlin becomes a federation of independent companies and begins its international development. After opening its first store in Spain in 1989, the Group carries out a series of acquisitions – starting with Belgian retailer Bricoman – and diversifies its markets. In 1995, Leroy-Merlin is the first company to involve employees in its ten-year plan, by asking them to imagine the company’s future – a process known as “Vision”. The collaborative approach takes hold and a new, participative management style is established. Stores are revamped, customer satisfaction surveys are launched and new services are developed, including warehouse pick-up, a customer service line and a store card. Thirty years on, Adeo’s strategy is still inspired by “Vision”.
Leroy Merlin expands its international reach, opening stores in Russia, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Greece and China. In 2004, Bricoman enters the Spanish market under the trade name Bricomart. Bricocenter (Italy), AKI (Spain and Portugal) and Weldom (France) all join the network. Home decor retailer Zôdio and sustainable home specialist Kbane are created in 2007-2008. The Leroy Merlin Group becomes Adeo in 2007, to better reflect the diversity of our operations. Adeo continues its international expansion by acquiring 60 Castorama stores in Italy in 2010.
It’s the dawn of the omni-channel approach. With social media, mobile devices and e-commerce becoming increasingly accessible and evidently useful, Adeo initiates its transformation into a collaborative, cross-channel retail operator. From “everything under one roof” to “everything at your fingertips”, the new model blends physical and digital formats. In 2017, Adeo reaches out to its entire ecosystem to build a home improvement platform – “useful to ourselves, to others and to the world” – and partners with installation service providers to offer comprehensive solutions, from product to instalment.
It’s the age of corporate social responsibility. Faced with urgent social and environmental issues, Adeo strengthens and structures its various sustainable development processes. The Group sets ambitious targets, with the aim of giving as many people as possible access to positive, sustainable homes and creating better living environments for everyone. The goal is to become a positive impact business in every sense of the term on all levels – economic, “human” and environmental.