Vilmorin is a French
producer. Along with its international subsidiaries, the company considers
itself to be the fourth largest seed company in the world.
The company has a long history in
where it was family-controlled for almost two centuries, and today exists
as a publicly traded company owned principally by agro-industrial
Groupe Limagrain, the largest plant breeding and seed company in the
Vilmorin was founded as a plant and seed boutique in 1742 by seed expert
Claude Geoffroy and her husband Pierre Andrieux, the chief seed supplier
and botanist to
King Louis XV. The store was located on the
quai de la Mégisserie, a street in the
1st arrondissement of
1774, their daughter married botany enthusiast
Philippe-Victoire Levêque de Vilmorin (1746-1804). Together, they
revived the stores and created the Vilmorin-Andrieux House, which later
became Vilmorin-Andrieux and Company under the leadership of their son,
Philippe André de Vilmorin (1776-1862). Philippe-Victoire de Vilmorin
began importing trees and exotic plants into Europe in 1766, starting with
American tulip tree, the domesticated
beet, and the
Such plants were unknown in Europe prior to Vilmorin-Andrieux's commercial
promotion of them for food, fodder and ornamentation.
The Vilmorin estate in the Paris suburb of
Verrières-le-Buisson, a former hunting lodge of
Louis XIV of France, became known for its gardens and arboretum, and
the Vilmorin company was headquartered in Verrières-le-Buisson, where it
was led by a succession of Vilmorin heirs, including
Louis de Vilmorin (1816-1860),
Henry de Vilmorin (1843-1899),
Maurice de Vilmorin (1849-1918),
Philippe de Vilmorin (1872-1917),
Jacques de Vilmorin (1882-1933), Louis de Vilmorin (1883-1944),
Louise de Vilmorin (1902-1969),
Olivier de Vilmorin (1904-1962),
Roger de Vilmorin (1905-1980), and
André de Vilmorin (1907-1987).
The company produced the first seed catalog for farmers and academics. In
1856, Louis de Vilmorin published "Note on the Creation of a New Race of
Beetroot and Considerations on Heredity in Plants", establishing the
theoretical groundwork for the modern seed-breeding industry. The
company's leaders continued to publish numerous botanical academic
articles throughout the company's early history.
In 1972 the company was acquired by
René Hodée, a farmer from the Anjou region who relocated the company
La Ménitré, a town to the southwest of Paris. Three years later, in
1975, he sold the company to
Groupe Limagrain, which changed the name from Vilmorin-Andrieux to
Vilmorin SA in 1986, and in 1989 created the
Oxadis division to specialize in Vilmorin's home vegetable garden
activities, including vegetable seeds, flowers and trees, plant health
products, and various pet and garden supplies for the amateur market.
Following this restructuring, Vilmorin focused on vegetable seeds and
trees for professionals (growers, seed producers, and nurseries).
In 1981, Limagrain bought U.S. seed producer Ferry-Morse Co. and its
operations were eventually folded into the Vilmorin company in 1992.
Following the acquisition in 1990 of Dutch seed producer
Nickerson Seeds Company, Vilmorin took over the distribution of
varieties of vegetables from Nickerson-Zwaan in France. In 1993, Vilmorin
went public on the Paris Stock Exchange and acquired Suttons (U.K.) and 25
percent of Australia's Triagro. In 1997, Vilmorin acquired Clause Semense,
Clause Jardin, and Harris-Moran Seed Company from Rhone Poulenc, and the
distribution of Nickerson-Zwaan products was resumed by their subsidiaries
in Italy, Spain and North America. Meanwhile, Vilmorin products were sold
in Northern European markets through Nickerson-Zwaan and its subsidiaries.
Vilmorin acquired a 12.6 percent stake in
Hazera Genetics (which itself has subsidiaries in Spain, China, and the
U.S.) in 1998, and bought
Kyowa Seeds in 2000 and the
Netherlands' Keygene in 2001. In 2003 it boosted it share in Hazera to
55%, making it the world leader in the tomato seeds segment. In 2004
Sperling GmbH and established Marco Polo Seeds Thailand as a spearhead for
future Southeast Asia expansion.
In 2006, after the integration of Limagrain's field seeds activity, the
company changed names once again, this time simply to Vilmorin. The
company also purchased Japan's Mikado Seed Growers in this year.
In 2007, the company acquired Turkey's Anadolu and China's LPHT, and in
2008, it bought a stake in Australia's Australian Grain Technologies.
More recently, in 2008, the company was attempting to sell
its Oxadis and Suttons subsidiaries.
Gustave Heusé, Les Vilmorin (1746-1899) : Philippe Victoire Levêque de
Vilmorin (1746-1804); Pierre Philippe André Levêque de Vilmorin
(1776-1862); Pierre Louis François Levêque de Vilmorin (1816-1860);
Charles Philippe Henry Levêque de Vilmorin (1843-1899), Librairie
agricole de la Maison rustique, Paris, 1899, 32 p.
Le guide Clause-Vilmorin du jardin,
Oxadis, Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, 2008 (35th edition), 719 p.
Vegetable Garden, MM, Vilmorin-Andrieux