Dassault Systèmes SE 181,85 EUR -0,10 (-0,05%)
Dassault Aviation SA 941,50 EUR -23,00 (-2,38%)

Presentation

Figaro Group is a diversified media and service corporation. Among other activities, it publishes Le Figaro, a general-interest daily newspaper with nationwide circulation of more than 313,876 copies. The paper includes three weekly supplements. Le Figaro Magazine, Madame Figaro and TV Magazine make up the “Les Figaro Week-end” offering, with a circulation of 375,513 copies (OJD, DSH 2019).
Figaro Group also publishes the largest monthly wealth-management journal in France, Le Particulier.

Figaro Group is heir to a long-standing tradition : Le Figaro, created in 1826, is the oldest daily paper published in France. Le Figaro has been a major player in digital news for several years : the Le Figaro website stands out as the top news site in France with 23.5 million unique visitors per month. On a broader level, Figaro Group has long been the number one digital media group in France with more than 36 million unique visitors throughout the country (Médiamétrie – total internet audience – June 2020), thanks in particular to the popularity of the many special-interest websites published by CCM Benchmark (Journal des Femmes, Journal du Net, Droit-Finances, L’Internaute) as well as those managed by La Chaîne Météo, the French weather channel.

The Figaro brand encompasses a highly diversified range of businesses: special editions, health, history and science magazines, conferences, guidebooks, travel and cruises, etc. Building on these activities, the Group has created a service-based unit specializing in customized travel (Marco Vasco and Les Maisons du Voyage).

The Group comprises a high-powered ad-space broker, MEDIA FIGARO, which harnesses a comprehensive set of marketing technologies for the benefit of advertisers. This entity has developed full-fledged communication agencies to serve its clients (14 Haussmann, Social & Stories, MGC Connecting).
Figaro Group has also made significant inroads in e-marketing with CCM Performance and BeMove, two database and digital marketing specialists.

The Group’s service offering remains strong through Figaro Classifieds, French leader in classified ads spanning the fields of Employment, Real Estate and Education (Cadremploi, Keljob, Explorimmo, Propriétés Le Figaro, etc.) as well as Ticketac, its online ticketing service.

Organization

  • Business sector
    • Print and digital media: Le Figaro, Le Figaro Magazine, Madame Figaro, TV Magazine, Le Particulier and associated websites, Le Journal des Femmes, L’Internaute, Journal du Net, CCM, Droit-finances
    • Advertising: MEDIA FIGARO, CCM Performance, MGC Connecting, ZBO, BeMove
    • Classified ads: Figaro Immo, Propriétés Le Figaro, Cadremploi, Keljob, Figaro Etudiant and Campus Channel, GoldenBees
    • E-commerce & e-services: Ticketac, Les Maisons du Voyage, Marco Vasco,
      La chaîne Méteo
  • Directors
    • Marc Feuillée, CEO
    • Alexis Brézet, Director of publications

Innovation

Figaro Group is pursuing strategy of innovation centered on diversification into services, constantly renewed editorial ambition, and pursuit of technological independence in phase with the uses and practices of tomorrow.

Figaro Group is a trailblazer in the fields of video news, live reporting that speaks directly to its audience. Each day, Figaro Live broadcasts more than five hours of direct interactive reporting, both on the Le Figaro website and on the platforms of leading live-streaming players such as Twitch and Facebook.

Following the acquisition of Maisons du Voyage, Figaro Group pressed on with its diversification strategy, strengthening its tourism business with the addition of Marco Vasco, a pure player specializing in customized travel. This theme is also increasingly present in the Group’s publishing activities through the development of complementary products: editorial and service-based content, as well as inspirational newsletters.

Increasing digital subscriptions stands out as a strategic focus to ensure continued growth. Figaro Group continues to innovate by implementing a revamped editorial and pricing policy, as well as new products. Following an initial phase with a fixed-price offering to attract new readers, Le Figaro chose to introduce three subscription formulas designed to better highlight the quality and scope of its content while segmenting the offerings.

Figaro Jeux, a new mobile app for iOS and Android, was created to further enrich this content. With another innovation designed and developed for these subscription offerings, customers can now share their subscription with persons of their choice. This initiative will help grow readership while heightening subscriber loyalty, already bolstered by the creation of exclusive newsletters : “Les Lettres des Journalistes.”

Innovation at Figaro Group also targets technological independence. The Group is designing and developing its own editorial tool, a source of independence, efficiency and agility amid the new strategic challenges in the media market. This independence ensures that Figaro Group is always a step ahead, adapting to new media consumption habits and inventing the practices of tomorrow.

The first Figaro : “Satirical, spiritual and combative” (1826-1854)

“Le Figaro” first appeared on January 15, 1826, a decade after the Bourbon Dynasty reclaimed the French throne. The reference to Beaumarchais’ opera The Marriage of Figaro was chosen in defiance of the censorship in force under Charles X: the paper thus attracted free thinkers and writers. Hostile to the monarchy, it sought to defend the “French spirit,” conspicuous for its impertinent tone and anticlerical line.

The “satirical, spiritual and combative newspaper,” to quote its subtitle, adopted a four-page portrait format with semi-weekly issues, although this cadence was interrupted on many occasions.

In 1830, after the fall of Charles X, Victor Bohain became prefect under the new king Louis-Philippe I. George Sand, Balzac, Gérard de Nerval and Théophile Gautier contributed to Le Figaro during this period.

In 1832, Le Figaro was taken over by a monarchist faction looking to counter a satirical front led by La Caricature. This shift quelled the paper’s satirical inventiveness.

Le Figaro reborn : the voice of the French bourgeoisie (1854-1979)

Le Figaro was taken over by Hippolyte Cartier–also known as de Villemessant–in 1854. He founded the structure that was to become the “Société du Figaro,” or Figaro Company. It took him 12 years to transform the paper from a weekly into a daily. The first daily issue of Le Figaro, dated November 16, 1866, displayed the subtitle Journal littéraire, which Villemessant interpreted as meaning: “Report Parisian news, eschewing politics, with a literary flair…”

The paper’s motto, which continues even today – “Sans la liberté de blâmer, il n’est point d’éloge flatteur” (Without the freedom to criticize, there is no true praise) – is taken from the famous monologue of Beaumarchais’ Figaro. Villemessant gave Le Figaro a more political, literary and society-focused tone.
The paper’s main themes, as well as its open-mindedness, won over the French bourgeoisie, which soon became its main audience.

The paper enjoyed sharp growth under Hippolyte de Villemessant, an innovative manager with a knack for surrounding himself with literary giants (Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, Alexandre Dumas and the Goncourt brothers). A leading title among light-hearted, society-centered newspapers, catering to a cultured and well-heeled readership, Le Figaro gave pride of place to criticism – generally associated with the elite press.
It was also under Villemessant’s leadership that satirical drawings began enriching Le Figaro.
Illustrious writers such as Zola, Daudet, Moréas, Loti, Verlaine, Maupassant, Bourget, Tolstoy, Mallarmé, Barrès, Anatole France and Jules Renard worked with the editorial board.

The golden age of the Belle Epoque (1879-1914)

The Belle Epoque was an auspicious time for many newspapers, including Le Figaro. It took full advantage of the 1881 law on freedom of the press, as well as growing literacy rates and – most significantly – the stunning progress of new printing techniques.

No subject eluded journalistic inquisitiveness. Le Figaro took positions, delving into the Panama Affair and reporting the associated scandal. However, it truly earned its reputation as a combative paper with the Dreyfus Affair. Firmly convinced that the maligned Captain was innocent, director Fernand de Rodays published pro-Dreyfus articles. Zola officially came out in support of Dreyfus, delivering three contributions in Le Figaro before publishing his famous “J’accuse” in L’Aurore on January 13, 1898.

A half-century marked by war (1914 -1942)

World War I wreaked havoc on Le Figaro. Military conscription led to disorganization within the editorial board. Even more detrimental was the re-establishment of censorship during the conflict, on the grounds of national interest, thereby distancing the paper from the high-society, literary identity it had cultivated during the Belle Epoque. Censorship was repealed with the end of the war, allowing Le Figaro to revive its high-society spirit.

Between 1922 and 1948, the paper experienced successive periods of abundance and hardship. Pierre Brisson pulled the paper back together in 1934, calling on its literary tradition to revive a name that had been compromised politically and weakened economically. A man of letters, he re-embraced an open-minded spirit and a moderate tone while surrounding himself with a brilliant team of editors including François Mauriac, Georges Duhamel, Jean Giraudoux, Tristan Bernard and André Maurois.
Articles were enriched with illustrations, while the first photographs embellished the pages. Le Figaro’s reputation grew as well, putting the company once again in the black.

Literature outweighed politics in general in 1938, but the paper put a singular emphasis on international news with extensive and ambitious reporting. Le Figaro expanded, opening its pages to more advertising and renovating its template to feature eight columns per page. The front page adopted an aesthetic design, with abundant illustrations and ubiquitous banner headlines.

Censorship was imposed once again on August 29, 1939, reducing the day’s issue to two pages. In 1940, Le Figaro moved to Bordeaux, and later to Clermont-Ferrand. Pierre Brisson was conscripted, but managed to escape and reached his team on foot, swimming across rivers. He later crossed the border between free and occupied France several times with forged identification. The editorial board put down roots in Lyon, and the paper continued to appear regularly. However, on November 11, 1942, facing pressure from Vichy censorship, Brisson decided to sabotage the paper rather than let it become a tool of collaborationists. He published an editorial reserved for subscribers: “The compulsory orders we have just received make it impossible for us to continue our work without betraying both the public trust and our intimate convictions. We must either lie or cease publication. We have made our choice. I thank our readers for their loyalty and their understanding [...] I give them my word that they will find Le Figaro once again immediately upon liberation, true to its duty and steadfast in its ideas.” 

The victorious rebirth of Le Figaro following the Liberation (1944-1975)

The Order of Algiers of June 22, 1944, which served to purge the press of collaborationist publications, allowed Le Figaro to publish anew in August of 1944. This treatment was undoubtedly due to Brisson’s stance two years earlier. The upshot of the order was decisive: as most newspapers had compromised their principles by collaborating with Vichy, Le Figaro was able to take advantage of a vacuum in the conservative media landscape. The first Figaro of the Liberation thus appeared on August 23, 1944, distributed by firefighters in the streets, in plain view of the German soldiers who continued to occupy the country. The prestige it enjoyed before the war, together with the participation of celebrated writers, made for encouraging sales: 100,000 copies a day were being printed by the end of August 1944.
French society was eager for a major conservative and open-minded daily paper. Indeed, Le Figaro’s moderate right-wing editorial line attracted one of its most prestigious – and prolific – contributors: Raymond Aron.

The 1950s were a period of prosperity for Le Figaro, with a circulation of 397,000. Pierre Brisson set out to develop a business culture, which he imparted to all employees: “Le Figaro abounds with illustrious signatures, and is a signature in itself. Everything that bears its logo must be a sign of quality, and thus of truth.” As a result, the editorial board expanded, daily editions grew thicker and advertising revenue surged, accounting for 61% of overall income. As advertising grew, so did classified ads, which often came to cover an entire page.
Clashes erupted during the May 1968 uprisings, with heated debates opposing sympathizers of the movement and detractors.

Jean d’Ormesson took the helm of the newspaper as of 1970. Against a backdrop of budget restrictions, he implemented a sweeping reorganization of the editorial board and the paper as a whole. Among his key innovations was the insertion of themed supplements in the daily paper. Le Figaro Littéraire became one such dossier. A second supplement covered the “Women’s news,” “House and Home,” “Entertainment,” “Youth and Higher Education” and “Automotive” sections. In November 1974, the paper was transformed once again, with a clearer and more modern organization.

The Hersant period : an empire marked by essential adaptations (1975-2004)

Robert Hersant purchased Le Figaro from Prouvost-Béghin Group on July 1, 1975. He took over management of the politics section and filled key positions with friends and family, including two of his sons. At that point, the editorial line shifted strongly in favor of conservative politics. An idea for a cultural supplement to the Saturday issue, entitled Figaro Dimanche, soon became reality. This dossier served as a mouthpiece for the “new right,” under the pen of Louis Pauwels, Alain de Benoist and Jean Cau.

During the spring of 1978, Hersant decided to transform this supplement into a separate magazine: Le Figaro Magazine was born. A number of political and media figures played a part in this new adventure, including Marcel Jullian, Jacques Chancel, Jean-Edern Hallier, François Chalais, Geneviève Dormann and Pierre Daninos.
Madame Figaro was launched in the early 1980s, under the leadership of Louis Pauwels’ daughter, Marie-Claire Pauwels. Thanks to the distribution of this new supplement with Le Figaro Magazine as well as the daily paper, advertisers could reach an audience of some 400,000 readers.

The success of Madame Figaro inspired Hersant to develop even more supplements. Thus was born the first issue of Figaro TV in February 1987, later renamed TV Magazine. These supplements proved highly successful. They contributed substantially to strengthening Le Figaro’s reputation, as well as the group’s financial position. Launched in 1985, Le Figaro Economie-Entreprises – with its now famous light pink paper – quickly found an audience, catering specifically to business executives.

In the 1980s, advertising accounted for 75% of income for Le Figaro, with small adds alone making up 60% of sales. Based on his observation of the media landscape in the United States, Robert Hersant’s intuition told him that a newspaper must offer supplements for weekend reading. That initiative provided an enduring source of revenue. 

In the early 1990s, new rotary presses led to a significant jump in productivity.
On July 13, 1998, the paper published its first full-color front page, celebrating the French World Cup victory.  At the same time, the famous light pink pages became a benchmark for economic news. The quality of international news reporting also contributed to making Le Figaro a newspaper of record.

Le Figaro today : from the arrival of Dassault Group to the present (2004-2015)

In 2004, Dassault Group took ownership of Le Figaro, headed at the time by Nicolas Beytout and Francis Morel. In August 2005, the paper moved from its old address at 37 Rue du Louvre to new offices at 14 Boulevard Haussmann.

October 3, 2005 marked something of a revolution: for the first time since its creation, Le Figaro adopted a new format, with the title now appearing in blue ink. Le Figaro thus embarked on a journey of innovation and modernization.

At the dawn of the 21st century, the newspaper acknowledged the revolution underway in the media landscape, anticipating readers’ new Internet-based habits. Another adventure was about to begin, a new world of interactive, fast, even instant news reporting. Realizing that the future would play out in web-based news and direct reader input, Management began adapting to new this new technological environment.

On November 17, 2011, the Lefigaro.fr website was voted “best mobile media outlet” at the 2011 Trophées Internet Mobile, organized by telecom operator Orange.
Two years later, it continued to rank as the number-one online news site in France. In November 2013, with more than 11 million single users, Lefigaro.fr set a new record for French news websites.

Marc Feuillée became CEO of Figaro Group in February 2011. In July 2012, Alexis Brézet was named Editorial Director, replacing Etienne Mougeotte.

In September 2015, Le Figaro took over CCM Benchmark Group, owner of the websites Comment ça marche, Le Journal du Net, L’Internaute and Copains d’avant. “This acquisition will project us into a new dimension , allowing us to compete directly against Facebook and Orange in France,” said CEO Marc Feuillée, adding that with the addition of CCM Benchmark, Le Figaro would become the “leader on the French digital media market” with more than 24 million unique visitors.