Our history

IMPERATOR benefits from a lubricant heritage, which reaches back to the 1930s and the establishment of RAFFINERIES IMPERATOR, a manufacturer of lubricants and food oils at Willems in the north of France.

Soon 90 years of lubricant products

1950 : Specialisation in the production of lubricating greases

The only greases that are known and manufactured in Europe are the so-called "calcium” greases, whose technique and formula had not changed for nearly 100 years! Thanks to an agreement with an American firm, IMPERATOR becomes the first company in France to manufacture lithium greases, of which the performance is much higher. The starting formula was certainly not very effective, but it gave the company a certain advantage over the competition.

1968 : Setting-up of IMMI with 6 grease manufacturers worldwide

During a visit to the USA, IMPERATOR's founder, Jean Ducatillon, started this group with an Oklahoma American producer which quickly extended to a German colleague and, successively, to Spanish, Japanese and Swedish colleagues as well. This cooperation, which was initially set up by non-competing companies, enabled the company to rapidly develop its technology through an open exchange of data on manufacturing processes, formulations, raw materials and marketing.

1974 : Installation of IMPERATOR in Baisieux (Northern France)

The supply of oils in barrels by road shows its limits. Consequently, IMPERATOR establishes itself and expands its activity in Baisieux, along the railroad. The decision is made to build a complete factory, piece by piece, as financial resources become available. Manufacturing workshops, warehouses, offices and finally laboratory, the new factory inspires confidence in visitors. The products stirred similar feelings, thanks to the start of the first thermal fluid cooking reactor, which allows to better control processes and to trim manufacturing times.

1991 : Takeover of the grease activities of Geeraert and Matthys

This operation allowed both to expand the customer base and the product line, while rationalizing both lines, and to launch lubricants with incidental food contact in a dedicated and specific equipment as well as to reinforce production in a competitive sector.

1994 : Construction of a production plant of polyureas greases

These very technical greases, of which the production in France is marginal and requires specific equipment and precautions, have been an innovation to reach high-end markets and applications.

1998 : Elf becomes the sole shareholder of IMPERATOR

A longtime customer, Elf had joined IMPERATOR in order to prepare the succession of the family business. In 1998, Elf becomes IMPERATOR’s sole shareholder. The following year, Total absorbs Elf. It is the start of a new fourth world oil giant and a new first in all categories in France.
IMPERATOR becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of TOTAL Lubrifiants.

2005 : IMPERATOR becomes world Formula 1 champion via the intermediary of its longstanding partnership.

The 2005 Formula 1 World Championship is won by Fernando Alonso and his Renault-Elf team. Total and IMPERATOR engineers participate in this double crown by supplying a special transmission grease, specially manufactured in pilot quantities in the lab.

2006 : RAFFINERIES IMPERATOR changes its trading name and becomes IMPERATOR.

IMPERATOR simplifies its trade name and abandons the word "Raffineries". It is also an opportunity to thoroughly review the graphic design and to present a new logo.

2011 : The business activity is transferred to the sales department of Total Lubrifiants.

IMPERATOR now focuses on its core business by manufacturing high-tech products to the very challenging lubricating grease market.

This history has come into being thanks to the involvement of many men and women over the decades and it now allows us to benefit from our solid experience in the industrial and logistical fields.

IMPERATOR’s ambition is to confirm its standing as a major player in the lubricating grease market.


Successive Managing Directors since the early 2000s


From left to right: Geert DE WAELE, Bertrand DESSOLIES, Vincent LEROY, Etienne DELEVAL


History of the logo

"The lion, symbol of strength and power."

Imperator is changing, evolving and here is its new logo: “Raffineries” has disappeared, to be replaced by a modern lion, with a flowing mane which is turned towards the future, thus reflecting our company’s orientations.
Imperator appears in a new font, inspired by the former one, but which is ever more anchored in the present!
The downstrokes of the letter M are spread, and each letter is as laid on a pedestal, to emphasize the robustness and stability of the company over the years.