Why it matters. And how old are you? Answer the future of iconic Duralex glasses this Thursday


The end of the tension for Duralex: The Orléans Commercial Court will rule on the famous glassware on Thursday and should confirm the plan proposed by the only ongoing candidate, Pyrexs parent company International Cookware.

Objective: to revitalize Duralex

The group presented an ambitious industrial and commercial development program to revive Duralex, whose creations, especially Gigogne and Picardy, are known worldwide, from school canteens to the MoMA design boutique in New York.

The mythical Gigogne and Picardy glasses

'And how old are you?' Generations of school children raised their canteen glasses and asked themselves the same question. Her eyes were fixed on the number marked on the bottom of her glass.

Duralex, of course: the must-have for canteens, which is produced in hundreds of millions of copies, has become a national icon in just a few decades, then a world icon that is considered unbreakable. Or almost.

Where does the old age ritual come from? We still dont know. But the character has its story. And its less poetic: the number at the bottom of the 'Gigogne' circles is nothing more than ... the number of the glass shape! A number that cannot exceed 50 ...

Why it matters. The industrialist, owned by the Kartesia mutual fund, intends to restore this symbol of 'Made in France' to its place of 'leadership in the world', according to its CEO, José Luis Llacuna.

The head of state therefore proposes investing 21 million euros within four years to revive the glassworks created after the war by the Saint-Gobain group in La Chapelle Saint-Mesmin (Loiret) in the suburbs of Orleans.

The 248 jobs were retained and two leaders were laid off

International cookware also guarantees a recovery without social breakdown by maintaining the 248 jobs (with the exception of two executives) and even promising new hires when production rises again.

It is also intended to create commercial synergies with Pyrex, another toughened glass specialist known for their oven dishes and whose factory is located in Châteauroux, 150 km from Orleans.

At the end of the January 22nd hearing, the judges had welcomed a 'high quality' proposal at the industrial and commercial level, but it was deemed insufficient in the budget.

An offer initially refuted ...

In particular, they condemned the inclusion of a one million euro insurance contract as part of the offer to guarantee workers compensation at the end of their careers.

'The offer does not correspond to the minimum expected by the court' and leads to a 'negative' sales price, according to the judges. Pyrex has a few days to review its offer.

In response, International Cookware submitted an improved project on Tuesday, Duralex lawyers Antoine Poulain and Amandine Rominskyj said.

The candidate therefore proposed two options: either withdraw the contract from the scope of its offer or keep it by contributing 400,000 euros in addition to its original proposal of 3.55 million euros.

... and revised upwards

'That is very good, we can only congratulate you, and your takeover project is really excellent for the future of Duralex,' said the lawyers, for whom the judges decision in favor of International Cookware is no longer in doubt.

The other three candidates for the takeover were dismissed by the Orleans Commercial Court.
André Ioannidès, the current shareholder of the glassworks, withdrew his offer at the last moment. Pierre-Olivier Baron, an independent sales representative, did not even come to defend his case.

The third project, a going concern plan presented by a group of investors who claimed to have bought the glassworks before it was received, was rejected as 'late with no funding guarantee'.

Multiple and consecutive incidents

The Pyrex range is therefore the only one that, despite its notoriety, can save Duralex from recurring difficulties for years. The glassworks was thus bankrupt in 2005 and bankrupt in 2008 before it was taken over at the last minute by its current managers.

A great success before the difficulties

Tempered Duralex glass was brought to market by Saint-Gobain shortly after the war and is known to be extremely tough. Originally intended for the automobile, it was eventually rejected in household glasses.

Its name 'Duralex' comes from the Latin 'Dura lex, sed lex' (the law is hard, but it is the law ', compared to its solidity.

Duralex glass is brought to 700 ° C and then suddenly cooled by a puff of air. It is 2.5 times stronger than conventional glass. It can withstand thermal shock on the order of 130 ° C. And if you break it anyway, its almost risk-free: Broken, this glass wont cut ... like the windshield goggles it was originally designed for.

After the timeless Gigogne, ten years later, Duralex brought Picardy onto the market, narrower and less round. With at least the same success: Picardy made its debut in 2017 at the famous Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Since then, a large number of glass products have been marketed by the brand.

In 2017, problems worsened due to an incident involving the furnace replacement, and the situation continued to worsen last year due to the health crisis.

Employees are asked to assemble in front of the commercial court on Thursday.