The Tarn Group, founded in Castres on May 30, 1962 by Pierre Fabr, today celebrates its 60th anniversary. It became the second French pharmaceutical group present worldwide. Very soon, diversification towards dermocosmetics made it possible to set up several factories in Occitanie and guaranteed the company’s sustainability.
In Sorèze in the Tarn, the street named Pierre Fabre sums up in three words who was the founder of the laboratories of the same name: “the industrialist and patron of Tarn.” In six decades, the pharmacy on Place Jean Jaurès in Castres, where it all began in the late 1950s, has become a global group with a turnover of 2.5 billion euros in 2021. (+ 8.2%), including 66% for exports employing 9,600 employees including 5,300 in France. In order to achieve the success of his laboratories, “Monsieur Pierre Fabre”, as he was called, always trusted his instincts.
The botanist pharmacist, convinced that many cures for our earthly ailments can be found in nature, has never stopped using plants for healing. In the late 1950s, he developed and marketed Cyclo 3 in the back room of his pharmacy, a veinotonic drug that uses the active ingredient holly, a shrub that is abundant in Tarn. The success was immediate, forcing Pierre Fabre to establish his laboratories in 1962, which quickly welcomed their first employees. Gradually, new herbal remedies are emerging. It was the beginning of Tarn, Occitan, French and then worldwide success.
“To be everywhere in the world and still be there”
Today, Pierre Fabre is the second largest private French pharmaceutical group and remains the leader in over-the-counter products in France. Despite his global presence, Pierre Fabre has always been internally linked to his region. He liked to say, “To be everywhere in the world and still be there.” Therefore, she always tried to establish production units and decision centers locally. In Tarn, of course, in Castres, Soual (the group’s largest factory), Gaillac, Lavaur but also in Lot, Gers in Aignan or Hérault with the famous Avène brand (see opposite). More than 95% of the products are manufactured in seven French factories. In post-invasive times, there is no need to reindustrialize or relocate in the name of medical sovereignty, because the industrial apparatus has never left the region.
It was clear, then, that Pierre Fabre had responded favorably in 2001 to a call from Philipp Douste-Blazy, then mayor of Toulouse, who wanted to transform the former AZF site devastated by an industrial explosion.
The laboratories have been pioneers in oncology since 1978, which generates 15% of sales, and have set up a pharmaceutical research center in Toulouse, focusing mainly on the fight against cancer. Pierre Fabre’s oncology specializations mainly concern lung, breast, bladder and, more recently, melanoma. Today, the group is building a revolution in targeted biotherapy and immunooncology.
Pierre Fabre also showed her attachment to her territory with her unceasing patronage in favor of Castres Olympique, which she owned in 1988, and a personal commitment to the Toulouse-Castres motorway, which will finally see the light of day.
Pierre Fabre disappeared in 2013 and transferred all his shares to the recognized public benefit foundation that bears his name. Unique in France, today it owns 86% of the group under the control of administrators, including former Minister Jacques Godfrain and its President Pierre-Yves Revol, the trusted men of the founder. The company’s reins were entrusted to Eric Ducournau, the current CEO, in 2018, who has a great responsibility for designing the Tarn Group into the future while respecting its DNA.