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Covering the full range of fragrance applications, MANE UK’s facility in southern England is supporting local and international clients as they adapt to new consumer trends.

Built on the site of a former corn mill that served the local area in centuries past, MANE’s fragrance centre in Haywards Heath is now meeting the needs of customers across the United Kingdom and beyond with a flourishing range of perfumes. Located between London and the hipster south coast city of Brighton, the centre is part of a UK subsidiary founded in 1971 that also includes a flavourings’ facility in Derby, Northern England.

“We started out with fine fragrances and personal care, but have since added new skill sets with home fragrances and more recently with laundry products,” explains Managing Director Jonathan Gray, a 29-year veteran of the Company. “We are acting as country experts, because the UK is a very specific market – in that it’s extremely open. It’s also a very concentrated market with a number of major companies – each of which has a large portfolio of individual brands.”

The pivotal role of evaluation

To meet the needs of those brands, a team at Haywards Heath is dedicated to each activity - marketing, sales and the vital role of evaluation - provided by fragrance development managers. Equipped with customer insights and market trends from their sales and marketing colleagues, these managers represent the crucial link with the innovation teams in France, so that products can be created or customised to meet the needs of the company’s UK clients.

By working closely with research and development teams in Le Bar-sur-Loup and investing in washing machines and personnel at Haywards Heath, fragrances have been developed for the laundry segment, for example. The same spirit of cooperation has underpinned work over the last two years on fragrances to evoke forest bathing, a marketing concept that is gaining traction among UK clients and is ready to be harnessed with the right products.

“The creators of fragrances are amazing people,” says Jonathan Gray. “But like all artists, they need disciplined critique – and that’s where the evaluators come in. Their skill set is in understanding the market, the clients, and the product needs in terms of performance and stability on the one hand, and on the other hand to have the perfume expertise to smell something and identify what’s missing.”

Meeting customer expectations

Those adjustments can range from the longevity needed for an air freshener, for example, the colouring of a fine fragrance, or the higher, citrus notes expected from washing-up liquid. Ensuring that the new product will both comply with national regulations on composition and consumer safety, while also achieving the right price point for the sales team, is part of an evaluators brief. “Fragrance enhances the experience of using a product,” highlights Jonathan Gray. “For washing up liquid, if it doesn’t smell fresh, there will be a dissonance with what the consumer expects - and they may never buy the product again. So the evaluation role is extremely important.”

As part of this process, the Haywards Heath offices are equipped with fragrance booths for testing the scent of new products ranging from liquid perfumes to candles, while a lab technician manages the preparation and storage of samples for testing.

The wide range of fragrance products available is matched not only by the variety of customer profiles but also by the subsidiary’s international reach. Local clients include:

  • major supermarkets
  • specialty cosmetics/perfume retailers
  • pharmaceutical groups
  • manufacturers of home fragrances (an area where MANE UK has particular expertise)

A UK base, a global partner

“We’re a centre of excellence for the home fragrances segment, with some very specialised people in the team, particularly where scented candles and reed diffusers are concerned,” explains Jonathan Gray. “We are looking after some key clients on our own, or in tandem with other subsidiaries, particularly in the United States. Our aim is to build expertise in the company and then use it to benefit the business.” UK co-operation on fragrance projects has even extended as far as India to ensure a customer gets the right solution. Product presentations are another area where UK developments have been exported across the corporate network with Christmas offerings, for example, proving equally popular with clients in the United States.

A more global market trend is sustainability, both in terms of products and corporate image. For MANE UK, recent sales successes with sustainable materials include the upcoming launch of a fine fragrance by a major perfume retailer and an air freshener by a specialist brand as consumers pay increasing attention to ingredients. Within the subsidiary itself:

  • all the cardboard at Haywards Heath is recycled
  • videoconferencing is replacing air travel
  • all the company vehicles are electric

A focus on people

For Jonathan Gray, adapting to a changing world involves not only the company’s product catalogue but also its people, which means bringing a younger generation into the business and allowing people to develop their talent. It’s an area where he believes the Group is particularly well-placed. “Making sure that our industry and our company has new talent is extremely important to me. What’s important is sharing your experience and allowing people to deliver the ideas that will build the business of the future. And for me, that’s the strength of a family company like MANE: the ability to think for the long term, bring people through, and help the business to grow.”