Boutique deal for Dufour

Belgian crane, aerial lift rental and heavy lift/transport group Dufour has completed the acquisition of Belgian crane, heavy lift and transport company Jean Boutique. The move brings together two 100 year old competitors to form a business that might provide some competition to the heavy lift and move giants such as Sarens and Mammoet etc..

J. Boutique was established in 1924 and runs a fleet of All Terrain cranes up to the 700 tonne LTM 1650-8.1, telescopic and lattice crawlers up to the 400 tonne Liebherr LR1400/2, mobile self-erecting tower cranes, spider cranes and a large number of pick & carry cranes from locations in near Mons and Liege. It had revenues last year in the region of €20 million with an EBITDA of €5 million.

Groupe Dufour is based in Tournai and was set up in 1920, today it is managed by a third generation of the founding family and runs a crane rental fleet which includes All Terrains up to 750 tonnes, mobile self-erecting cranes and lattice crawlers up to 800 tonnes. In addition to spider cranes, pick & carry cranes and aerial lifts - including truck mounted lifts up to 90 metres.

The company also took delivery of two new 700 tonne Liebherr LTM1650-8.1 All Terrains in March and April, taking its LTM 1650 fleet to four, while other large cranes in the fleet include three 750 tonne LTM1750-9.1, four 750 tonne LG1750 wheeled lattice boom cranes, seven 650 tonne Tadano/Demag CC3800 crawler cranes as well as three 700 tonne Demag AC700s and two 500 tonners - a Demag AC500 and a Liebherr LTM1500-8.1.

Dufour operates from locations in Tournai in Belgium as well as Paris, Dunkirk and Le Mans in France, J. Boutique balances its coverage a little with two more locations in its home market - Lille and Mons. Dufour generated revenues last year in the region of €160 million, taking the combined business to more than €180 million.

The deal was struck in late April, but financial details of the transaction have not been released. It seems that J. Boutique will initially trade as ‘Jean Boutique Groupe Dufour’.

Two interesting histories

Dufour 1920

Dufour was originally set up as Dufour Frères in 1920 by the brothers, Augustin and Fernand Dufour, when they began distributing coal from a warehouse on the Taille-Pierres quay in Tournai in western Belgium, close to the boarder with Lille in France.

In 1926 they expanded the business into garbage/rubbish collection after winning a tender from the City of Tournai to collect rubbish, with their horse drawn trailers. In 1959 they decided to expand properly into transport, with the acquisition of the company Cogetrina, which ran a small fleet of trucks.
1959 saw a move into transport proper

In 1969 the sons, Jean-Pierre and André Dufour succeeded their father at the head of the company and entered the civil engineering, lifting and heavy transport market, as well as adding the distribution of other products, such as fuel and construction equipment. In the mod 1970s they added more cranes and in 1980 entered the concrete production business.
The mid 1970s and two P&H Omega Rough Terrain cranes

1991 marked the hand over to a third generation in the form of Christian Dufour, son of André, who retired and passed away eight years later at the age of 72.

Heavy cranes began to be added to the fleet in 1995 as the company began specialising in heavy lifts and exceptional transportation, including a focus on the wind power market, thanks to strong demand across the Benelux region and areas over the boarder in Germany and France.

In 1999 the company moved into northern France, buying Dunkirk based Sama company from where the company built a substantial French operation. In 2003 it was time for the next generation with Jean-Pierre Dufour's three sons, Frédéric, Olivier and Philippe, taking over from him and support Christian Dufour.

Between 2005 and 2015 the group looked to step up its expansion outside of Belgium opening operations in the Paris/Ile-de-France region, Lille, and Nantes in France along with Luxembourg, while building on its Dunkirk base with the acquisition of Dunkerque Manutention.

In 2020 the company acquired Le Mans based crane and aerial lift rental company Merdrignac which also ran transport and highway repair divisions, on the retirement of owner Phillipe Merdrignac. That brings us up to date and back to Dufour's latest move expanding operations in its home market.
Phillipe Merdrignac retires having sold his company to Dufour

J. Boutique 1924

The Boutique company was established by Clément Boutique in 1924, mainly working in the coal mining and steel industry in Belgium and later in France and Luxembourg. Today a fourth generation of the family is being prepared to take over the reins.

The company did not move into the lifting business until 1998, initially to cope with demand from its customer base for industrial maintenance and moving etc..
J. Boutique's 700 tonne flagship crane

Today its fleet includes a wide range of All Terrain cranes from 40 tonne two axles models up to the 700 tonne flagship, a Liebherr LTM 1650-8.2, along with lattice crawlers up to 400 tonnes, spider cranes, pick & carry cranes, heavy loader cranes and mobile self-erecting tower cranes from locations in Baudour west of Mons, and Herstal on the north side of Liège.