We need to go back almost 200 years…
The story of Claire Group started with Sainte-Lizaigne in 1827, when Count Octave de Boissy acquired a property in the Indre, where he would build an iron foundry 12 years later.
Erected on the banks of the Théols river, the Reblay forge, as it was known at the time, had a blast furnace, machines, workshops, living quarters for the staff and a residence used by the manager of the company. The residence can still be seen today, along with the forge. These buildings are now home to the offices, methods and QSE departments of the company Sainte-Lizaigne SAS.
Initially, the forge specialised in sanitary fittings. Over the years, drinking water networks began to take shape, and in 1948, the Reblay factory began producing water supply equipment. The factory changed hands several times - one of the owners was Veolia Eau - before it became established as a cornerstone of Claire Group.
Claire Group expanded
In 2012, Veolia Eau sold Sainte-Lizaigne to a French industrial investment fund, making it the first entity in what later became the Claire Group. In October 2014, V.V.Electronic, an electronics supplier in Châteauroux, joined the Group in order to provide expertise in a new Sainte-Lizaigne project related to connected valves. Since then, hydraulic and electronic expertise have dovetailed seamlessly within Claire Group.
Early in 2015, the Group was joined by Hydroméca, which specialises in drinking water metering systems and distributes Sainte-Lizaigne products. These sister companies then began to extend their range of equipment for drinking water networks, and by this time boasted an industrial site, repair and calibration workshop, and three logistics depots. The arrival of U.D.S., which became U.D.Access, further extended the range to include metering environments for collective housing. In May 2016, Claire Group entered the European arena, with the arrival of Fast, which designs and builds systems used to detect water loss in drinking water networks. A year later, the scope of expertise was expanded yet again, with the arrival of SL-Irrigation and its metering solutions for raw water. This new entry was accompanied by the construction of a new building in Sainte-Lizaigne, to accommodate a large calibration bench.
At the end of 2019 it was off to Brittany, where Ijinus, a manufacturer of sensors and data loggers, became the fourth Claire Group company. The Group’s areas of expertise now included the monitoring of waste water and natural waters. EIE is the latest new entry, joining the Group in September 2022. Established in Seine-et-Marne, EIE has bolstered the Group's industrial know-how and completes the offer of drinking water network products.
Through this series of acquisitions, Claire Group has established itself as a supplier of a full range of products for public and private drinking water networks and sewerage systems, natural waters, industrial supply and irrigation networks, with the overarching mission of preserving the water resource, led by innovation.
Claire Group embraces a number of companies, whose priorities may be very different but who all work towards the same goal: the preservation of water as a resource. What’s more, they are all committed to a pathway of innovation in order to do this. All the companies have proved to be pioneers in their domains.
- The factory at Reblay was the first of its kind to design metal and plastic fittings in the 1950s, before becoming the company now known as Sainte-Lizaigne SAS.
- Hydroméca has developed a compact meter well based on an innovative method, by which composite meters can be installed tool-free in a matter of seconds.
- Fast is the company that has revolutionised the way water leaks are detected, with its fibreglass rod and hydrophone. Meet Pipemic!
- Ijinus, whose name actually means “innovation” in the Breton language, was one of the first companies to market IoT (Internet of Things) equipment - even before the launch of public IoT networks.
- EIE was the first enterprise to adapt the technique of under pressure drilling, used by oil companies, for the drinking water networks.
Towards smart networks
With its two centuries of history, a successful French-German industrial facility and a team of water industry specialists, Claire Group has a solid foundation to build on, as it tackles the water supply challenge of the future. However, as the rapidly-ageing supply network continues to expand, making these networks more intelligent through well-targeted actions is essential. To achieve this aim, Claire Group is turning to electronics. The Group has brought in new areas of expertise including process automation, connected devices and software development, to improve the management of our water networks.