Chennai, India — Fragrance and flavor maker Symrise opened its first perfumery school outside its headquarters in Holzminden, Germany, and its first in India.
This story first appeared in the January 4, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“This is the first major initiative of the kind by a multinational in India,” Achim Daub, global president of the scent & care division, told WWD. “Perfumers are the creative heart and soul of the scent and care division. Our focus is to build the great noses of tomorrow.”
Emerging markets constitute an important part of the business for Symrise, accounting for 46 percent of the business in 2010, said Daub. India represents one of the fastest-growing markets for Symrise, which reported a nine-month turnover of $1.6 billion in local currency.
Venkat Iyer, vice president of scent & care, said, “The next few decades belong to India.” He continued, “A strong economy, favorable demographics and a growing middle class with increasing disposable incomes offer a company like Symrise strong opportunities for growth. We are among the fastest-growing countries in the Symrise family.”
Iyer, a 10-year veteran of the company, oversees the business in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
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“The perfumery school will create a pool of talent for the Indian market but also for the global community as a whole,” he added.
The Symrise fragrance business in India has been growing in the high double digits over the past few years. Symrise has an approximate 20 percent share of the organized Indian market, said Iyer, with a large part of business coming from home and personal care products.
“Personal care is a very important market — the deodorant market itself is growing at 40 percent, and more customers are getting into this category,” said Daub. “India does not have a significant penetration of fine fragrances; however, in the years to come this will be an exciting category.”
The perfumery school in India is part of the company’s strategic growth plan. Béatrice Favre-Bulle, senior vice president of fragrance development, said, “If I look at the fragrance life cycle, it starts with ingredients and composition and ends with sales. As far as ingredients go, it is pretty obvious that India provides all these fantastic smells and represents an endless source of inspiration. Our key customers who are looking at new markets ask about India. We need creative perfumery talents and expertise here, in the country — we can’t do it from the other side of the world.”
The academy, which will offer a diploma at the end of a two-and-a-half-year period, began classes on Nov. 22 and is in the process of training new perfumers. “We have to adapt the school to the needs of the changing world,” said Marc vom Ende, senior perfumer, Symrise, who will oversee the program both here and in Germany. “The course will cover the basics of olfaction — how the nose works, the sensory language, the language of perfumes — about raw materials and accords, about sales and much more,” he added.
The academy, which includes a special area with more than 900 bottled compounds and a library, will house these “noses of the future” in Symrise’s Chennai office, located on a 10-acre compound with landscaped gardens.
The academy will train evaluators in addition to perfumers. It will also add to the strong theme of research and development encouraged by the company. “We spend approximately 7 percent on R&D,” says Daub. “A lot of the basic research is done primarily at our headquarters in Germany. Development is creation work, which happens in each creative center of the world.”
Meanwhile, candidates for the next session at the perfumery academy at Holzminden, Germany, are under selection to begin the program next summer.