History of the chamber
The French Chamber of Great Britain is unique because of its longevity and privileged ties with the UK
From the 19th to the 20th century
The Cobden-Chevalier treaty was signed. This treaty regulated the trade relations between France and the United Kingdom (UK) and reduced French duties on British manufactured goods and British duties on French wines and brandy.
The French Chamber of Commerce in London was founded by a few French businessmen in Great Britain. These men, who were mainly traders in raw materials or agricultural products and bankers, wanted to promote their liberal ideals as well as defending their business interests. The Chamber counted 51 companies as members at its creation.
26,000 French citizens formed the French Community in London, and 125 years later, it has increased to more than 300,000 expatriates.
British and French diplomatic tensions climaxed over the control of Fachoda, a small outpost in Sudan.
Signature of the Entente Cordiale which resolved the ‘colonial bones of contention’ related to Egypt, Morocco and the Far East.
The French Chamber thrived and reached 349 members.
The French Chamber of Commerce initiated the project of a major Franco-British fair that took place in Shepherd’s Bush and in which numerous French and British companies were represented. The exhibition was a real success and 8 to 9 million visitors attended it.
The Chamber had 700 members at that time, including companies which still exist today: Cartier, Boucheron, Hachette, Pernod, Schneider, Vuitton, and la Société Générale.
Beginning of the 20th century
The French Chamber started to receive demands from young French people who wanted to find a job in Great Britain. All magazines of the Chamber would include in this period a section dedicated to this issue.
18th of June 1940
Charles de Gaulle speaking from London on the BBC radio called for French resistance and London subsequently became a decision-making centre as well as a symbol of French resistance against German occupation.
During the Second World War and in the context of the London blitz, the activities of the French Chamber of Commerce of London focused on aid and assistance by creating a mutual-aid committee for French refugees in the UK.
6th January 1942
The monthly lunch of the Chamber was attended by Charles de Gaulle, who encouraged the Chamber to play a key role in the reconstruction of the 2 states.
Liberation of North Africa, the Chamber successfully lobbied for the suspension of the Trade with the Enemy Act for these territories. In the same year, the French Chamber of Commerce in London changed its name into the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain.
The UK joined the European Community (EC). This membership resulted in new activities for the French Chamber of Commerce, which then focused increasingly on the assistance of French SMEs seeking to settle in the UK.
The French Chamber subsequently developed into a successful networking platform for both British and French companies in the UK, as well as an efficient provider of business setting-up and accountancy services.
The magazine of the Chamber of Commerce, periodically published to inform both its members and the public, was renamed “INFO” and will keep this name until now. INFO remains today a key source of information for Franco-British business participants.
20th October 1983
François Mitterand, President of the French Republic from 1981 to 1995, attended a reception organised by the French Chamber of Commerce, during which he stressed that successes of French companies in the UK would be successes for all French individuals and for France.
The UK was directly connected to the Continent thanks to the opening of the Channel Tunnel. Thousands of travellers cross the Channel on a daily basis, testimony of the strong connections between France and the UK.
135 years after its creation, the Chamber draws on a network of more than 570 members, including a remarkably high number of blue chip companies, positioning the Chamber at the heart of the Franco-British business community.