Originally forms to serve the extension of water supply and drainage infrastructures throughout rural France, Saur has been assisting local authorities in their management of public services for 80 years.
the vision of an entrepreneur
n 1933, Pierre Crussard forms the Société d’Aménagement Urbain et Rural to design and operate water production plants. From its very beginnings, Saur was an infrastructure services company. It is by building on the ETDE(Entreprise de transport et de distribution d’électricité) network (in which Pierre Crussard was a shareholder) that Saur went on to develop its first water management operationsin Western France, with the aim of ensuring service provision to rural and coastal communities.
In 1934, Saur signed its first water service concession contract with the community of Villejoubert. Contracts follow in the Loire-Atlantique, Vendée and Charente regions.
Saur, the rural development company
During this time, while leading competitors from the 19th century – Générale des Eaux and Lyonnaise des Eaux – were already positioning themselves as concession operators for major cities, Saur rapidly established itself as the authority and preferred partner of rural local authorities and rural development authorities.
Saur engineers successfully rose to the challenge of bringing clean drinking water to the French countryside. Saur became a key player in the development of the Vendée and Morbihan regions, and acquired recognised expertise in surface water treatment. More local authorities signed contracts with Saur, and new regional centers gradually form a network across France. In 1959, Saur created a specialist engineering company : Stereau.
the first city and international expansion
n 1960, Saur formed Sodeci (Société de Distribution des Eaux de la Côte-d’Ivoire), then the only private company in the world to manage a nationwide service contract. In France, the cities of Brive-la-Gaillarde and Nimes choose Saur.
The company continues to grow in France. The reputation established as a result of major water distribution projects in rural areas wins it the confidence of government departments and opens the door to bid for contracts in France’s largest cities. Saur is recognised for its local presence, professionalism and public service spirit. In 1975, Saur takes an innovative step by forming its own Professional Training Institute: an industry first.
At the same time, Saur grows internationally by consolidatings its position on the African continent with the establishment of subsidiary company Saur-Afrique. Its infrastructure services and wastewater treatment activities continue to grow.
Bouygues acquisition, Coved and new business sectors
In 1984, Saur was acquired by the Bouygues family who were looking for a water services company to complete their range of services for local authorities and help them move into a business sector less cyclical than civil engineering. For Saur, the acquisition was a goodffit, as Bouygues contributed its methodological expertise, project-based cuture, top-class IT organisation and international reputation to Saur’s development.
Meanwhile, Saur was also developing new business sectors: drinking water treatment and supply, wastewater collection and treatment, irrigation, waste collection and recovery, and the design and construction of wastewater treatment plants. In 1988, Saur formed the company Coved to look after its waste management activities and in 1991, Saur established a presence in Poland to secure the water supply and wastewater treatment contract for the city of Gdansk (pop. 400,000).
the rise of Stereau, the Quality Policy and the arrival of EDF
Success continued to follows success, demonstrating the Group’s recognised expertise in major projects (Colmar, Orléans, Nantes, Harbin in China, etc.). Stereau becomes a showcase for Group expertise. With impetus from Bouygues, the Saur Group puts its commitment behind a quality policy, and Stereau becomes the first certificated engineering company in its market.
Coved continues to expand. In 1994, Saur and EDF form a strategic partnership to develop joint business interests internationally. In 1995, Saur is awarded the contract to manage water services in Senegal. In France, the Group introduces a customer policy in response to the new expectations of subscribers turned consumers.
the emergence of a major environmental player
Saur merged with Cise, the environmental services subsidiary of Saint Gobain. An entrepreneurial culture combined with a culture of engineering to create the critical mass needed to offer competitive products and services to the market. The core water business structures itself into six regions which rapidly achieve ISO 9001 certification. In 2002, Saur deployed its own customer management system called Saphir.
Stereau won the contract to construct the Grésillons plant for SIAAP, the company that provided wastewater management services to the residents of Paris and its surrounding regions. Saur created the specialist pipe laying company Cise-TP. In 2004, the Saur Group becomes the first company to receive ISO 14001 certification for all its ultimate waste storage centres.
a new phase of expansion, new business sectors, new cities and internationalisation
In 2007, the consortium formed by the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, Séché Environnement and AXA Investment Managers (soon to be joined by Cube Infrastructure) takes control of the Saur Group with the aim of re-energising its development.
Saur returns to expanding its environmental services expertise, building on innovation, its public service experience,and with the confidence of its customers and long experience of international markets.
Major contracts are won in Saint-Etienne, Lyon (management of the Saint-Fons wastewater treatment plant serving 1 million population equivalent), Rungis (management of waste for the international food market), Cyprus and the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia (water supply and wastewater treatment services for 6 million people during the Haj pilgrimage). The Group’s international presence expands further in 2011 with the provision of water supply and wastewater treatment services for the new city of Jubail.
Some areas of Saur expertise developed over many years at the request of local authority customers are structured into distinct business sectors to grow in their own right. These include campsites, golf courses, water parks, travellers’ sites, high-pressure cleaning systems and infrastructure services.
BNP and BPCE invest
Launched in 2012, debt refinancing led to a new shareholder change in October 2013. Driven by BNP and BPCE, the new shareholders consolidated the Group’s French presence and ensured its long-term visibility.
In 2013, Saur launches its project Néau. Objective: to improve the quality of service provided to customers by targeting technological innovation, operational excellence, economic performance and an unprecedented customer relationship in the profession. Operational piloting centers open up to communities and become their piloting tool for the water service.
Innovation at the heart of performance
A pioneer in the field of smart technologies applied to the water business, Saur accelerates the deployment of its operational control centers (CPO) in France and internationally.
Saur is taking the digital turn with the implementation of the Phoenix program whose goal is to make Saur the first digital company in the water sector and information technology and consulting to customers, the lever of tomorrow. This transformation involves new modular service offerings adapted to the needs of local authorities, the development of digitalisation and mobility, and the availability of the best technologies in the market.
A group refocused on the water core businesses
In July 2018, the European EQT fund is chosen to take over the Saur group.
The Initiative 2023 strategic plan marks the beginning of a new era of conquest.
This new corporate plan is supported by new investment capacity and a differentiation strategy built around innovation, local presence and digital prowess.