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Adecco History



Adia SA is founded in Lausanne, Switzerland, by Henri Lavanchy. The focus of the company is to provide associates and it grows rapidly in its home country before expanding abroad.

1961 1980

In the 1960s, Adia opens offices in various European countries and then in 1972 takes a first step overseas, with a branch in Menlo, California. In 1974, Lavanchy recruits Martin O. Pestalozzi and a phase of expansion by acquisitions begins. In the next 12 years, Adia buys over 85 companies, tripling in size and gaining footholds in more than a dozen countries, including France (1975) and the UK (1977), where it buys the market leader: Alfred Marks Bureau Ltd.

Late 1980s

Sales topping USD 1 billion in 1986 make Adia the European leader. Its success is partly down to a focus on quality and high-value services. The 1990s see a growing trend towards specialised skills, e.g. accounting and word-processing, including in-house training programmes.



Philippe Foriel-Destezet founded Ecco in Lyon. By the early 1980s, Ecco is France’s largest supplier of temporary personnel.

Early 1980s

Further expansion overseas, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and Canada. Meanwhile, Ecco is focusing on its home market. By the mid-1980s, it is the market leader in France, a decade later world no. 2. The growth of both companies is part of a wider trend: temporary staffing becomes the world’s third-fastest growing industry in the 1980s. Adia’s Pestalozzi states in 1985: "We want balanced growth; we want to be known as the best, rather than the biggest in our markets."


Further acquisitions from the late 1980s onwards strengthen base in highly skilled, specialised fields. Also, a move into social programmes focused on more mature workers.
In 1991, recognising the importance of the industry’s role in job creation and its growth potential, Klaus J. Jacobs invests in Adia en route to becoming majority shareholder.


The Adecco Group is the result of over 50 years’ expansion and growth by acquisitions around the world. The founding companies, Adia and Ecco, merged in 1996 to form the global leader.


Adia and Ecco merge to form Adecco. Two of the world’s top three personnel services firms, with complementary geographical profiles, merge to form a strong global leader with annualised revenues of over EUR 5.4 billion. Operations are combined to form a global network of 2,500 branches. The new Company has an exceptional range and quality of services. The core staffing business places around 250,000 people in work each day.

1997 - 2000

Following its takeover of TAD Resources International, Massachusetts, in 2000, Adecco acquires Olsten Staffing of Melville (NY) to become the no. 1 recruitment company in the US. That year, the merged Company generates combined revenues of over EUR 11.6 billion.


Recognising the increasing demand for professional and expert services as well as the growing importance of attracting talent, Adecco consolidates its businesses under three leading names (Adecco Staffing — focused upon temporary assignments and permanent placement across wide ranging industrial sectors; Ajilon Professional — focused upon temporary and permanent placement and outsourced solutions, especially in IT, engineering and finance; and LHH Career Services — providing outplacement and human resource consulting for companies in transition across most industry sectors) and creates three dedicated global divisions to deliver its services.


After a strategy review, Adecco makes a commitment to expand through realignment across six professional business lines defined by occupational fields, complementing its office and industrial core business - Adecco Finance & Legal; Adecco Engineering & Technical; Adecco Information Technology; Adecco Medical & Science; Adecco Sales, Marketing & Events; and Adecco Human Capital Solutions.


Adecco announces a dual strategy focused on professional and general staffing. Following the acquisition of DIS AG, Germany, Dieter Scheiff assumes the position of Chief Executive Officer, Adecco Group. Dominik de Daniel becomes Chief Financial Officer.


The annual General Meeting of Shareholders approves the nomination of Jürgen Dormann, former Vice- Chairman, as Chairman of the Board. Rolf Dörig becomes Vice-Chairman. Klaus J. Jacobs, the co-founder of Adecco, hands back his mandate.


The strategy announced in 2006 moves into its second phase: development of professional staffing, with devolution of more operational responsibility to foster the businesses at country level.
September 11: Klaus J. Jacobs, founder and Honorary President of Adecco Group, passed away. Jürgen Dormann steps down at year end, as Chairman of the Board of Directors; he is succeeded by Rolf Dörig as of January 1, 2009.


January 1, 2009 Rolf Dörig starts as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Adecco Group. June 1, 2009 Patrick De Maeseneire takes over as Chief Executive Officer of the Adecco Group from Dieter Scheiff.

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