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Birth of a brand



1907 One day in La Ciotat, a Jeu Provençal player Jules Huges, alias "Lenoir", who could no longer manage the run-up to practise his favourite sport due to rheumatism, decided to draw a circle to stand in on the pitch With his "pés tanqués" (feet firmly planted on the ground, in the local dialect), he threw his jack 5 or 6 metres away. And so petanque was born. The petanque boule as we know it today originated in Loire, at Saint-Bonnet-le-Château, at the gateway to Auvergne.

It was at the beginning of the 1900s that metalworking began to prosper in this region. Small workshops appeared making guns, locks and hardware.


In Saint-Bonnet-le-Château, a small town in Loire, Jean Blanc filed a patent for a steel petanque boule, made from two deep-drawn half spheres welded together.

Jean Blanc gave his initials to the JB factory he then set up.

Around the same time,

in 1937, Jean SOUVIGNET set up in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château to develop a business making steel tubes for bicycles and cars.

To give the business an extra boost, his sons, Georges and Robert, joined their father's firm in 1950. They were true experts in metalworking and together they developed all kinds of equipment, ranging from rolling mills to telescopic forks to institutional and garden furniture.

"Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it"

Henry Royce, often quoted by Robert Souvignet


Still in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château, surfing on petanque's post-war wave of popularity, a lock maker named Frédéric Bayet and Antoine Dupuy, a talented mechanic and future technical director of Obut, joined forces and pooled their know-how to start manufacturing boules.

They registered the OBUT trademark.


In order to take the company to the next level, the founders enlisted the help of the Souvignet family: Jean, the father and his two sons, Georges and Robert, bought out the small factory, which at the time went under the name "Société Nouvelle de boules à jouer". They remained partners with Antoine Dupuy, who had invented the machines to manufacture the boules.

From then on, the Souvignets would invest in the workshops and develop new production processes.

A story of fathers and sons...

At a time when petanque was becoming one of French people's favourite leisure activities, with their experience of metalworking, the Souvignet brothers and their partner, Antoine Dupuy, launched into this new adventure. La Boule Obut became the reference, synonymous with quality.

Robert Souvignet was head of the firm from 1981 to 1994, and Antoine Dupuy was technical director. Pierre Souvignet, Robert's son, joined the company in 1978. He would become the managing director, in his turn, in 1995.
André Dupuy, Antoine's son, would be the technical director.
There then followed a long period during which Pierre Souvignet and André Dupuy did everything they could to develop the quality and technicality of the products and establish the supremacy of the brand. 

In 2003, Pierre Souvignet decided to restructure the family business and bought out the Dupuys. The Souvignet family were now the sole shareholders and owners of the OBUT brand. In 2006, Romain, Pierre's son, also joined the firm.
In 2010, he was named managing director.

Since 2010, Pierre and Romain Souvignet have continued to work together to perpetuate the adventure of the famous petanque boule Made in France with many new projects.
Always with the same leitmotiv, innovation: whether in the production process, the design or services.

Four generations of Souvignets have headed the company, always with the same spirit, the same attachment to a region and the shared values of a job well done and the preservation of the environment.

Today, their aim is to make wise choices for tomorrow, so that the whole world can play petanque:  "We want to pass on to as many people as possible the values of the game, sharing and conviviality."


Romain Souvignet is OBUT's Chairman.

Our permanent quest for quality products that perform better and better will see the arrival of new innovative, high tech facilities which will enable us to achieve the goal we cherish most, the satisfaction of our customers.