Cornilleau’s story has always closely reflected the history of French society as a whole and, now, that of the global society.
Founded in 1946 in Bonneuil-les-Eaux in the Oise department by Emile Cornilleau, the company started out as a joinery and woodworking workshop.
In the post-war period, many of the region’s buildings needed to be rebuilt, and Cornilleau prospered mainly by manufacturing and installing doors and windows. But it didn’t stop there... When harsh winters brought building work to a temporary standstill, the company was already looking for ways to diversify, and used its production facilities for other industries, for example by producing bottle holders and wooden crates for the automobile industry, for the storage of parts.
As society evolved, needs began to change, and leisure activities became an increasingly important part of French people’s lives. Business tapered off slightly for Cornilleau in the second half of the 1960s, but in 1969, a decisive encounter was set to change the course of the company’s history. Building on its success, the BHV department store in Paris was looking to expand its offer, and indirectly entrusted Cornilleau with a new project - manufacturing table tennis tables. Boosted by this exciting new mission, the family business stepped up its game and set about acquiring the expertise it needed. The result was 3 prototype tables.
BHV Paris was won over, and ordered 300 of them for the Christmas season.
They placed their order in May. Emile Cornilleau faced a true challenge: his family workshop had to expand to an industrial scale capable of producing large volumes in short deadlines. His son, Pierre, convinced him to aim high, and Emile Cornilleau invested all his savings in facilities geared to that one product - the challenge was on. That decision marked a turning point in Cornilleau’s history, the founding event of the future table tennis brand.
The emergence of outdoor ping-pong
In tune with the times, the company understood that ordinary families, having fitted out their homes, now aspired to take advantage of their gardens, especially as a way of spending time as a family. In 1988, when outdoor leisure activities were more popular than ever, Pierre Cornilleau made a game-changing decision. Using a material which until then had been associated solely with the building industry - high pressure laminate -, he produced the first affordable outdoor table tennis tables aimed at the general public. Table tennis became a true outdoor sport, accessible to all. The history of table tennis had been rewritten - it was now a sport anyone could play.
Housing trends were changing, private homes were springing up on the outskirts of big cities,
but gardens remained fairly small. As a solution to people’s desire to play table tennis and still be able to use their garden space, Pierre Cornilleau pulled off another stroke of genius in 1995. He designed the compact table: a table that hardly takes up any room when folded up. Years later, this innovation became standard, not least because it significantly improved the safety and comfort-of-use of table tennis tables.
In the late 1990s, as the economy was becoming increasingly global, the brand won over new international markets, thereby joining an elite club of French brand names whose success goes far beyond the borders of France. In parallel, and well into the 2000s, Cornilleau developed new innovative products. This innovation drive resulted in the first outdoor paddles truly designed to withstand bad weather and extreme heat, as well as knocks and impacts of all kinds. These new polymer and elastomer paddles proved highly successful, so much so that several years later, in 2017, their eco-designed descendant was developed - the Softbat, made from recycled textile fibers from the french clothing brand Armor Lux.
Cornilleau’s determination to enable everyone to enjoy a thrilling game experience prompted the brand to diversify its offer in 2019.
Having covered the entire table tennis universe for 50 years, it opened a new chapter in its history, thanks to innovation, once again. After turning table tennis into an outdoor sport, the brand set about revolutionizing billiards, freeing it from a host of constraints. With the Hyphen outdoor pool table, which is extraordinarily shock- and weather-resistant, new possibilities have opened up for current and future players of this popular game. The same year, Cornilleau marketed its first trampoline, in a class of its own thanks to its design, durability and optimum comfort of use. Cornilleau’s history continues day after day, with each new challenge tackled by the brand, with the same unchanging ambition - giving everyone the chance to make happy memories by playing together.