PARIS — Creed celebrates its 250-year reign in the world of prestige perfumery this year.
While the company is steeped in history — having created scents for the likes of King George III, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly and Queen Victoria (who appointed Creed “official supplier” to the British royal court) — it’s facing forward with a strategy involving store openings.
Since 1760, when it began in London as a seller of goods such as fabrics, suits and silks, Creed has been passed from father to son. Olivier Creed marks the sixth generation running the business founded by James Henry Creed. When he took over the eponymous concern in the mid-Sixties, at age 22, Olivier Creed made the visionary step of launching a retail fragrance operation. Prior to that, the house of Creed produced only bespoke scents for clients.
“Now we’re distributed worldwide,” said Creed of his company’s retail network that comprises 600 selective sales points globally, including its own boutiques in Paris (the city serving as the company base since 1854) and New York, plus a presence in department stores such as Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
Creed has been sold in the U.S., its largest market, for about 15 years. There, it’s carried in 85 specialty store doors and generates in excess of $20 million in annual retail sales, according to industry sources. They also estimate that the U.S. rings up almost 40 percent of Creed’s total revenues.
Italy and the U.K. tie for second place saleswise for the company, whose more than 50 fragrances are sold in approximately 35 countries.
The house of Creed has one factory, which employs about 60 people, and a laboratory just by Fontainebleau, France, near Paris.
Creed deems that his company is bolstered by its 250-year legacy.
“I strongly believe that an image linked to a family is very important right now,” said Creed. “And very few people can boast about that, since three quarters — or say rather 99 percent — of these family businesses have been sold. In my opinion, as soon a family business is sold it loses its soul.”
The house of Creed is family owned and run. Creed’s son, Erwin, focuses on fragrance creation and some of the company’s marketing aspects. Meanwhile, Creed’s daughter, Olivia, oversees its design elements.
Creed generally works on many scent ideas at once, and the fragrances he composes contain more than 50 percent natural materials.
The first scent Creed created was Zeste Mandarine Pamplemousse, an eau de toilette inspired by a trip to the Amalfi Coast. He subsequently launched dozens of scents, including bestsellers such as Green Irish Tweed, Silver Mountain Water and Spring Flower.
Like his forefathers, Creed develops custom-made fragrances, but only up to three per year.
Creed himself finds some similarities between fragrance making and painting, an art he’s long involved himself in — albeit less now than before. (“I don’t have a lot of time,” he said with chagrin.)
Ever the Renaissance man, Creed has wide-ranging artistic tastes, including a penchant for 18th century and contemporary works. He often frequents Drouot auction house.
“I like to discover new talents,” said Creed.
He enjoys sports such as horseback riding, golf and skiing, as well.
To help fete the house of Creed’s 250th anniversary, 1,000 numbered bottles were created. They contain 100 milliliters of juice specifically made for the celebration and are to be sold at approximately $1,500 each.
Looking ahead, Creed hopes his fragrance house remains family owned. He added the business must expand in terms of the number of Creed boutiques. Most recently, in December 2009, the brand opened its first freestanding location in New York.
Creed said the plan in the next five years is to open 12 stores. On the docket first is a boutique in London and then ones in Milan and Los Angeles are probably to follow. Other countries in view for future locations include Tokyo, Singapore, Moscow and Berlin.
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