Firmenich Drafts a Battle Plan

Firmenich is reviving its winning formula of team building among its perfumers to position itself among the top global fragrance suppliers.

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Based in Geneva, Firmenich has made several changes in its North American offices this year. The family-owned company consolidated its fine fragrance and home and body care divisions, in addition to appointing Vittoria as president of Fragrances North America in a restructuring of its management team. Vittoria, who held various leadership positions at Firmenich over 16 years, was previously vice president and general manager of the company's perfumery division for body and home care in North America. The company hopes this initiative will maximize cross-functional synergies to keep up with a changing market.

Cathleen Quinn was also appointed as vice president, creative development center for fine fragrances. Quinn will provide strategic alignment to perfumers by managing all creative development resources in North America, including evaluation, marketing and laboratories. With 13 years of management experience in the marketing and creative development of fine fragrance, Quinn relocated from Firmenich's global fine fragrance center in Paris where she served as vice president of creative marketing. Marc Salmon also assumed the role of vice president of sales for fine fragrance North America.

Firmenich's business is broken down into four segments, which include fine fragrances, personal care, home care and ingredients, which is the backbone of the company's success. The company has placed a strong emphasis on research — both in terms of ingredients and marketing — to develop a creative edge as competition to win briefs remains fierce. Vittoria stressed Firmenich's investment in creating new molecules. The company has been plowing 10 percent of its annual sales into research and development with an eye to discovering new ingredients. Firmenich spends up to $2 million per new molecule on various regulatory and safety approvals and comes out with five to 10 new ingredients per year.

"Forty percent of our fragrance ingredients are [proprietary] Firmenich molecules," said Armand de Villoutreys, the group's vice president of fragrance worldwide. "Of those, 20 percent are captives only used by our perfumers, so the product is unique and cannot be counterfeited."

Recent developments include a new extraction method to create a jasmine sambac note.

"It is a superior quality of natural jasmine. It completely matches the flower, avoiding the burnt effect that is often a result of using other extraction methods," maintains Firmenich perfumer Olivier Cresp.

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