The production of wooden picture mouldings and frames developed in South Bohemia, in České Budějovice and Český Krumlov, as early as the middle of the 19th century and even then had an industrial character. In 1880 the manufacturer Leonard Schönbauer, a manufacturer of gilded picture mouldings, received the privilege of a special method of producing designs of gilded mouldings and frames, and in January 1881 he started production in a newly built factory in Domoradice on the outskirts of Český Krumlov.
In 1893 Schönbauer employed 98 workers, the factory had the best machinery in comparison with other competing companies in South Bohemia and exported its products not only to all regions of Europe, but also to the Orient, Africa and Australia. The excellent quality of Schönbauer products was awarded a number of medals at international industrial and art exhibitions in the 80s and 90s of the 19th century.
The period of the first half of the 20th century is characterized by alternating short-term recoveries and deep downturns. In addition to the economic crisis in the twenties and thirties, production was negatively affected by both world wars, when there was a dramatic decrease in foreign and domestic demand and subsequently also in the production of picture mouldings and frames.
When the company came under national administration in 1945, there were fewer than twenty workers. The economic conditions of the factory were difficult, its property was tied up in debts, debts in Germany and Austria were irrecoverable, and markets in these countries were lost. There was a shortage of materials and skilled manpower.
In 1947 the company was hit by fire, which destroyed almost all buildings and machinery. The burned-out building was in such a state that it seemed impossible to restore the factory. Today the words about the enthusiasm and effort of the employees to restore production on the ruins of the original factory on their own will sound somewhat unusual, but already in the spring of 1948 the production was restored in the reconstructed premises of the original factory in its former extent. The natural disaster strengthened the mutual relations of the workers to each other and to the company.
After several reorganizations, when the company received its current name LIRA (initial syllables of the words mouldings and frames in the Czech language), in 1960 it became the founder of the company ONV in Český Krumlov. The transfer of the Lira company under the management of the ONV in Český Krumlov meant an important milestone for the development of the production of picture mouldings and frames in Czechoslovakia and for the development of the entire company.
In the 60s and 70s, new production plants were gradually built in Český Krumlov and Horní Planá. Lira becomes the largest manufacturer of picture mouldings and frames in Czechoslovakia and throughout Europe. A significant part of the production (more than 50%) is exported to foreign markets – England, the Near and Middle East, Germany, the USA, Spain, Australia, Canada, Scandinavia....
Thanks to the privatization condition to reinvest all the resources created for a period of five years from privatization to the development of the company, production capacities were expanded and modernized, a number of new technologies were introduced and a distribution center for the Czech Republic and surrounding countries was built. Lira has a closed technological cycle, which begins with the purchase of wood mass and ends with the sale of products. The production uses both modern machine technologies and classic manual procedures based on historical tradition.
The assortment consists of more than 400 profiles, which offer 4,000 kinds of picture mouldings by applying ornaments and colors. More than four hundred employees produce more than 20 kilometers of picture mouldings every day. Traditional products also include classic picture frames, stretcher frames, industrial and cover bars and briquettes made from wood waste. Lira also has its own framing service and six representative shops, and a significant contribution to the development of framing services in the Czech Republic by importing framing technology and materials.
In 1991, the joint-stock company Lira, picture bars and frames, a. s., Český Krumlov was founded, which is the legal successor of the state enterprise Lira Č. Krumlov. In the privatization of the Lira joint-stock company in the mid-90s, the English Magnolia Group, PLC, the largest customer of Lira products for several decades, became the majority shareholder. Magnolia was later bought by the multinational American company Larson-Juhl based in Atlanta, which opened up a huge market for Lira products and created conditions for further development.
Lira exports its products to forty countries on five continents. In recent years, the territorial focus of exports has changed, where more than 70% of Lira production goes. The United States and Canada are becoming the largest customers, followed by Poland, Hungary, France, Germany, Italy. New products based on new designs are successfully sold when applying classic gold plating and patina technologies.
The company strengthens its position in the Larson Juhl Group. In 2015 the service center of the German sister company Aicham was completely moved to Lira. A permanent shift operation has been established and the entire distribution centre is undergoing considerable structural modifications. Storage capacities are significantly increased. Since mid-2015 goods have been dispatched in lenghts, as well as connected frames, chops or framing material to the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria with several days of delivery. In 2015, the company increased its share of deliveries to the group to a record 60%.
In 2019, "LIRA, picture mouldings and frames, a.s." changes its legal form and name to "Larson-Juhl s.r.o.". It strengthens its position in the domestic market and group trade. The company takes over the product portfolio from its sister company Senelar in France. A significant increase in sales is in the segment of services provided. The moulding in lenghts remains a supporting production product.