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Traded as SIXSGSN
Industry Quality
Founded 1878
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Key people
Sergio Marchionne (Chairman)
Frankie Ng (CEO)
Carla De Geyseleer (CFO)
Services Testing, inspection, certification
Revenue CHF 6.0 billion (2016)[1]
Profit CHF 586 million (2016)[1]
Total assets CHF 5.349 billion (end 2016)[1]
Total equity CHF 1.853 billion (end 2016)[1]
Number of employees
92,300 (end 2016)[2]

SGS (formerly Société Générale de Surveillance (French for General Society of Surveillance)) is a multinational company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland which provides inspection, verification, testing and certification services. It has more than 90,000 employees and operates over 2,000 offices and laboratories worldwide.[2] It ranked on Forbes Global 2000 in 2015[3] and 2016 [4]

The core services offered by SGS include the inspection and verification of the quantity, weight and quality of traded goods, the testing of product quality and performance against various health, safety and regulatory standards, and to make sure that products, systems or services meet the requirements of standards set by governments, standardization bodies or by SGS customers.[a]


International traders in London, including those from France, Germany and the Netherlands, the Baltic, Hungary, the Mediterranean and the United States, founded the London Corn Trade Association in 1878 in order to standardize shipping documents for exporting nations and to clarify procedures and disputes relating to the quality of imported grain.

In the same year, SGS was founded in Rouen, France, by Henri Goldstuck, a young Latvian immigrant who, having seen the opportunities at one of the country’s largest ports, began to inspect French grain shipments.[5] With the aid of Captain Maxwell Shafftington, he borrowed money from an Austrian friend to start inspecting the shipments arriving in Rouen as, during transit, losses showed in the volume of grain as a result of shrinkage and theft. The service inspected and verified the quantity and quality of the grain on arrival with the importer.

Business grew rapidly; the two entrepreneurs went into business together in December 1878 and, within a year, had opened offices in Le Havre, Dunkirk and Marseilles.

In 1915, during the First World War, the company moved its headquarters from Paris to Geneva, Switzerland and on July 19, 1919 the company adopted the name Société Générale de Surveillance.

During the mid-20th century, SGS started offering inspection, testing and verification services across a variety of sectors, including industrial, minerals and oil, gas and chemicals, among others. In 1981, the company went public and in 1985 joined the Swiss Market Index.


The company works in the following industries: agriculture and food, automotive, aviation, chemical, construction, consumer goods and retail, energy, finance, industrial manufacturing, life sciences, logistics, mining, oil and gas, and public sector.

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Ranked by Dow Jones Sustainability Indices as a 2016 Industry Leader in Commercial & Professional Services for its sustainability processes.[6]
  • KPMG ranked the SGS Code of Integrity in the top ten among Swiss companies in 2015.[7]
  • Ranked by Dow Jones Sustainability Indices as a 2015 Industry Leader in Professional Services for its sustainability processes.[8]
  • Forbes ranked SGS in the world’s most innovative companies in 2015.[9]
  • In 2015, the company joined RE100, a global group of companies that aims to generate their energy fully from renewable sources.[10]


  1. ^ Hermann Simon mentioned this company in his correspondent book as an example of a "Hidden Champion" (Simon, Hermann: Hidden Champions of the 21st Century : Success Strategies of unknown World Market Leaders. London: Springer, 2009. - ISBN 978-0-387-98147-5. P. 10).


  1. ^ a b c d e "SGS 2016 Full Year Results" (PDF). SGS. Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b "SGS 2016 Full Year Results Presentation" (PDF). SGS. Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  3. ^ "China Takes Lead On The 2015 Global 2000". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  4. ^ "The World's Biggest Public Companies list". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  5. ^ "SGS - E- Story". Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  6. ^ "Industry Group Leaders 2016 | Sustainability Indices". Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  7. ^ "Swiss Codes of Conduct Benchmark" (PDF). 17 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Industry Group Leaders 2015 | Sustainability Indices". Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  9. ^ "The World's Most Innovative Companies". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  10. ^ "World's Leading Companies Join Campaign for 100% renewable power -". REI Group. Retrieved 2015-12-03. 

External links[edit]