The creation of the TOTAL network in the north
The CFP was created in 1924, the CFR in 1928, and the TOTAL trademark was registered in 1953. The fuels produced by the CFR were distributed by independent companies, under their brands (Desmarais AZUR, Lille Bonnières, STELLINE, OZO...). The world's major oil companies had a distribution network under their brand names that the independents could not compete with. In 1956, the CFR decided to equip France with a network of TOTAL service stations and created the Total Network Equipment service for this purpose. A few employees were recruited for each French region. I was in charge of the Nord region in residence in Lille. Our task was initially to record and photograph all the fuel distribution sites (isolated pumps, garages, service stations, etc.) and to draw up a 25,000th I.G.N. map on which everything was recorded. Based on this information, we looked for land on the outskirts of town or in the city centre to set up this future network. We "visited" all the cadastres of the towns or villages that interested us and noted the plots of land and the names of the owners that corresponded to our criteria (facades of 30 m minimum, visibility). We made manual counts of the vehicles in the law of the land and from all these elements a file was sent to the head office which made a decision. If it was validated, we started the negotiations and then had the promise of sale signed. A building permit was requested and then a project of sale followed and then the sale. The construction could then begin and the name chosen for this "relay" would personalize this new station. A whole series of stations were also built underneath buildings and then this network was completed by the motorway stations. It is with a certain sadness that I see my "children" disappear today because they are no longer profitable but I remain very proud of my participation in the creation of this superb network.