In 1850 in Marseille in the district of Sainte-Marthe which still had a country feel to it, a small candle maker established itself. It diversified into the industry of greasy substances, and gave rise to the Leca soap-maker at the end of the 19th century, then to J.B. Paul, and finally to Antonin Roux and J.B. Paul.
At that time, under the direction of the master soap-maker, there were hundreds of workers - the "fatiguons" - to feed the immense cauldrons where the pastes composed of soda and oils were cooking. A "maître du feu" (fire master) fed fireboxes from the basement, increasing or decreasing the cooking temperature. In the Sainte-Marthe workshop, the master soap-maker tasted the soap to know which ingredient had to be added or taken out.
The first stone cauldrons which served to develop the original composition of Marseille soap have been kept in good condition and are a veritable heritage from Marseille's industrial past.
At the end of the 19th century, soap-making was done by dozens of small family businesses. Each one was linked to a particular oil-mill and had its own brand (« L'Amande », « Le Chapeau », « La Bonne Mère », « La Sainte Famille », «Le Fer à Cheval »…).
Since between the two World Wars, with the appearance of washing powders and then liquid derergents, soap-making went into a period of decline. Because of a lack of understanding and mechanization, many Provençale soap-makers closed down.
In spite of this, some of them decided to join together to found the Union Générale de Savonnerie (UGS), which would notably create the famous « Le Chat machine », a powder very rich in Marseille soap.
In 1987, the company Chimiotechnic took over the Sainte-Marthe factory site, and then, after starting the redeployment of the Marseille site, allied itself in 1994 with the Nantes company Savonnerie and Huilerie Bernard to set up a new structure : La Compagnie du Savon de Marseille.
In 2003, the management of the company took over all of the activities of the Sainte-Marthe site again and launched itself into a diversification of the products.