Sunday, May 20, 2018

La manufacture de Bérets Beighau

It is not that long ago that the South of France (and more specifically the area around Oloron Sainte Marie) counted many small beret manufacturers. These days, there is only Laulhère left of the historic manufacturers.
Until 1996 there was also Beighau.
110 years before, Zechariah Beighau set up business as a wine merchant in Oloron St Marie, and in 1928 his son Xavier started the manufacturing of berets under the family name Beighau. The business expanded rapidly.
In 1945, son Maurice joined his father in the company (he took over the business in 1980). This is still the time that many Frenchmen (and many others) saw the beret as a standard part of their clothing and berets were manufactured in great numbers. Only in 1977 Beighau produced 450.000 berets (65% export!) and employed 40 people.
The general decline in wearing hats and strong competition from Asian countries made Maurice, and his son Pierre decide to end the business in 1996. Most machinery went to Laulhere (including the ownership of the labels).
The factory building still stands in the centre of Oloron Sainte Marie, some machinery and equipment still present, but used principally as an exhibition space. 

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