The sweet smell of success
Driven by limitless creativity and a collaborative mindset, Fragrance Oils is creating some of the UK’s most evocative fragrances for air fresheners, cleaning products, candles and more
Originally known as Northern Aromatics, Fragrance Oils was founded in 1967 by Denis Carter – a man on a mission to build a fragrance business that combined exceptional value with high levels of customer service. As time went on, Fragrance Oils began to establish a strong international presence and by the turn of the millennium, the Manchester-based firm was supplying to more than 100 countries worldwide.
The early 2000s saw Fragrance Oils transform its production facility, investing in automation that would go on to handle around 70 percent of the company’s products. As its growth continued, Fragrance Oils began to attract attention from some of the industry’s most celebrated names, including Givaudan, which eventually acquired the firm in 2019.
Navigate the market
Backed by the might of Givaudan, today, in 2021, Fragrance Oils continues to operate as an Independent Fragrance House carrying out all its manufacturing in Manchester, England, whilst also operating with facilities in Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. According to Head of Fragrance Oils Andy Stedman, Givaudan’s support has helped launch Fragrance Oils into a new age of success.
“One thing Givaudan provides us with is scale,” Andy says. “As a leading flavor and fragrance company, it gives us access to a stable supply of raw materials, unique fragrance-creating items, solutions for achieving sustainable ingredients, a palette for the future, advanced technologies, and the ability to utilize its substantial manufacturing network. For instance, over the last eight months or so, we have been using the Givaudan network in China to help us support our customers in the region with more local production, which obviously cuts shipping time and helps us in terms of environmental footprint.
“We benefit from all of this, while still operating as an Independent Fragrance House,” Andy adds. “This was a key decision Givaudan made and it means we remain a business in our own right in terms of strategy and business performance. These factors help us to successfully navigate in the market against our rivals in a different way.”
Art and science
At Fragrance Oils, creativity is king. Each year, the company develops and delivers over 40,000 unique fragrances to meet the needs of its clients, which means every day the business is creating something new. At Fragrance Oils, employees operate in an environment where their skills are valued and imaginative thinking is encouraged across all of the teams.
“The creation of fragrance is a blend of art and science,” Andy explains. “Our perfumers and evaluators use a palette of more than 900 ingredients to create a finished fragrance, which may eventually contain anything up to 70 different ingredients that help to make a smell unique. To help with inspiration, our marketeers track the marketplace for us and report back on current trends and preferences. Right now, we are still living in a Covid-19 environment where the importance of hygiene and cleaning is paramount in many products, so we endeavor to underpin these aims with ‘clean and hygienic’ smelling fragrances.
“In short, our work is about understanding our customers, their proposition, and what their brands stands for. We then look to create the correct ambiance through fragrance, whether that be a warm smell or a fresh smell, as well as considering how long that smell is intended to last. That’s where the science side kicks in. Each of the 900-plus ingredients we use has different volatilities. Citrus ingredients, for example, will evaporate quickly, whilst heavy, woody ingredients will evaporate over several days. As a result, the perfumers and evaluators use their knowledge about materials and the consumer to create fragrances that will inspire and, hopefully, touch the hearts of customers that purchase (and repeat purchase) our products.”
Known for adopting a close partnership approach to its dealings with clients, Fragrance Oils aims to help its customers understand the way in which a scent can act as a ‘silent vendor’ for a product. Memorable and evocative by their very nature, fragrances are arguably even more important than feel or imagery when it comes to persuading a consumer to buy an item over and over again.
“Scent is ultimately the most memorable part of a product and it’s a proven driver of repeat purchasing,” Andy asserts. “When it comes to specific scents, traditional smells continue to be favored, though interestingly, scents like lavender actually vary around the world. For example, the UK’s interpretation of lavender is not the same as Latin America’s, so we are always considering that.
“Fragrances have a vast range of characters and come in various notes, such as floral or woody,” Andy continues. “We associate these notes with different things. Traditional citrus notes are linked closely with cleaning for example, whereas fruity notes like apples and melons underpin a sense of reassurance. I wouldn’t say there is one fragrance that particularly stands out in any one area, but importantly, we can use the scents we have to create a whole fragrance family. Sometimes it feels like we have our own language in this industry, but it’s all part of bringing a product alive for the customer in the most vivid way possible.”
More than half a century since it was established, Fragrance Oils’ founding culture of value and quality persists, aided now by an aptitude for selecting and harnessing some of the market’s most efficient, modern technology. Though these facets of the business will never change, Fragrance Oils continues to look for new ways to make the company as successful as possible. Most recently, this involved undergoing a rebranding process with the help of Brand Strategy and Creative Agency Touch of Mojo.
“Our rebranding has brought a huge amount of energy to the organization,” Andy declares. “It’s evident on our website, but it’s really come to life in the way we are working from day to day.
“Touch of Mojo interviewed a lot of our employees, customers and suppliers, which gave us a great deal of valuable feedback and helped us create a more modern and vibrant reality for the business. It’s been very reassuring because, at the end of the day, Fragrance Oils is a family company and we have a lot of long-tenured employees who were concerned about the company losing its culture when it was acquired by Givaudan, but this rebranding has helped us build on our existing roots. It’s been a strengthening of our approach, if anything.”
As Andy previously highlighted, collaboration is a hallmark of the way Fragrance Oils does business, and consequently, it was a key area of focus during the rebranding process. Following the advice of Touch of Mojo, Fragrance Oils is now quicker to celebrate what it has always known – that the company, its customers, its suppliers and its workforce are ‘better together’.
“We’re Better Together is all about how we partner with our customers, how we understand them and their expectations, and how we turn that customer-supplier relationship into a true partnership,” Andy reveals. “We’re Better Together also concerns how we partner internally and how we collaborate across the organization. We are trying to break down any silos that may exist across the different teams and functions, ensuring we maximize the expertise of all individuals in the business. That part is really important for me because, fundamentally, it’s what attracts people to our organization. We have a special culture that helps people stay motivated and understand that they can really make a difference.”
After adapting to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Fragrance Oils has continued to grow at a formidable rate. As the crisis raged across the world, the company was first to meet the ever-steepening demands of its clients, resulting in new levels of success. With the end of 2021 now a matter of weeks away, Andy and his team are preparing to capitalize on Fragrance Oils’ recent strong performance and take the company to heady, new heights.
“We have significant ambitions to grow our business in the years ahead,” Andy proclaims. “In four years’ time, we would like to be 50 percent bigger than we are today.
“How are we going to do that?” he continues. “For one thing, continued geographical expansion will strengthen our position in a lot of key markets and bring what we do to more and more people around the world.
“We have a clear five-year strategic plan to support our efforts and we believe it will culminate in sizable expansion in line with our ambitions for well-rounded, company-wide growth.”
Products: Fragrances for products including air fresheners, candles and wipes