The
roots
of
development

Finding its beginnings in the purchase of a Bertrix sawmill by the François family, the Paletteries François company was set up by Pierre and Bernard François in 1980 with an initial production capacity of 1000 pallets per day. A little later, a saw mill was built at Rodange (in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg).

Vue aerienne

 

The company's success at the time of its creation can largely be explained through its closeness to and the requirements of its largest customer in all areas (technical, quality, strictly meeting on-time supply deadlines).

This favourable context and the prospects for growth that this opened up led the François to open up the company's share capital in 1993 to three new family shareholders. This association allowed a significant investment to take place in 1997 to bring production capacity to its current level of 12,000 pallets per shift and which made Paletteries François the largest manufacturer of wood packaging in Belgium. The company Genpack was created a little after that to produce volumes of cardboard cores. 

 At the same time, Paletterie François undertook an energy recovery programme for its wood waste (shavings, packaging waste, etc.) by installing a 2000 kW boiler with automatic feed. The calorific energy released is used on the one hand to heat buildings and on the other hand to power pallet drying units. These have in fact become essential within the context of phytosanitary treatment of EURO pallets.

Ever mindful to diversify its business activities and therefore strengthen the sustainability of its cashflows, Paletterie François undertook a study in 2004 in association with IDELUX, an intermunicipal organisation, which went on to become the second pillar of its development - namely, the construction of a unit for cogeneration using wood waste gathered from the 55 collection centres in the province of Luxembourg. This unit, with a production capacity of 2.5 MW of electricity and 5 MW of heat energy, was complemented by a new sawmill with a capacity of 800 m3 of bark per shift and a pellet production unit with a 45,000 tonnes-per-year capacity. These new business activities were grouped within the company Recybois, managed by the François Group which holds 55% of the company's share capital.

With the same concern for diversification and in order to extend its business activities by developing niche markets that are closely related to its two main specialisms, the François Group got involved in 2006 in the logistics field by organising the collection and recycling of packaging on a Europe-wide basis. With this in mind, the group acquired a building with a surface area of 13,000 m², constructed on a piece of land of more than 4 ha adjoining its own existing facilities. At the beginning of October 2009, the Group purchased a company located in Chauny (France) that specialised in the logistics sector, with the aim of strengthening the Group's logistics activity.

All of the industrial units belonging to the François Group and put together stretch out over an area of more than 14 ha.

It is the Group's duty, furthermore, to strive constantly to improve the performance of its resources and to enhance its know-how within the cogeneration field. With this in mind, the Group has created a company (KIOWATT) with a Luxembourg partner (LuxEnergie), whose area of business is cogeneration installations.

After 30 years of existence, the François Group today constitutes an industrial group that is integrated and active within the wood industry in Wallonia and in renewable energy. Assisted by a staff made up of around 160 people, the Group can pride itself on continued and sustainable development since its creation.