Lefèvre Utile, better known worldwide by the initials LU, is a manufacturer brand of French biscuits, emblematic of the city of Nantes. The brand is now part of US confectionery company Mondelēz International since 2007, after its acquisition from Groupe Danone. The Petit-Beurre biscuit remains the flagship product alongside the Boudoir, Champagne, Petit four, Prince (FR), Pim's, Paille d'Or, etc.
Lefèvre-Utile was founded in Nantes, France, in 1846 by Jean-Romain Lefèvre. Originally he sold biscuits from the English factory Huntley & Palmers and then he began his own production. The name LU comes from Lefèvre and his business partner and wife, Pauline-Isabelle Utile. Their initials were first utilized by Alfons Mucha for an 1897 calendar ad for the Lefèvre-Utile Biscuit Co. That same year the company hired Firmin Bouisset to create a poster ad. Bouisset, already noted for his work for the Menier Chocolate company, created Petit Écolier ("the Little Schoolboy") which incorporated the LU initials. Bouisset's poster was used extensively and the image was embossed on the company's Petit Beurre line of biscuits. Within a few years, the success of the logo resulted in the company becoming known as LU.
The founder's son, Louis Lefèvre-Utile, took over the company and eventually it was acquired by Générale Biscuit S.A., which in turn was sold to Groupe Danone in 1986. Although an international brand today, LU products are primarily distributed in Western Europe, and in 2005 represented nearly half of the sales for Danone's biscuits and cereal division.
In July 2007, LU was sold to Kraft Foods (now Mondelez International).
La Bretonne, painted by Hippolyte Berteaux upon request of Lefèvre-Utile
A postcard showing a painted sign for LU biscuits in the background of this Paris street scene with a statue of inventor Claude Chappe, 1908
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