2011 Firmenich, Switzerland
The Firmenich Group
Firmenich is the world’s largest privately-owned company in the fragrance and flavor industry and in its 4th generation of family-owned leadership. Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1895, Firmenich creates unique sensorial experiences in fragrances and flavors for the world’s most desirable brands, inspiring emotions and fulfilling desires through the products people enjoy around the world, everyday.
Its passion for smell and taste is at the heart of its success. It is renowned for its creativity and innovation, as well as its exceptional understanding of consumer trends. Each year, it invests around 10% of its turnover in R&D, reflecting its continuous desire to understand, share and sublimate the best that nature has to offer. Firmenich had an annual turnover of 2.78 billion Swiss francs at end June 2011.
115 years of family business history
At the end of the 19th century, young chemist Philippe Chuit set up a small laboratory in Geneva in order to explore his passion and develop and synthesize chemicals for the growing perfume industry. His partner in business was Martin Naef, who provided the seed capital for launching the business in 1895. Chuit and Naef rented a small garage from Charles Firmenich and began producing their first product, vanillin, using a new synthesis technique developed by Chuit.
In 1898, the company, which had already grown to 20 employees, reincorporated as a limited partnership, Chuit, Naef & Cie. During that time, the daughter of Charles Firmenich, Thérèse, met and later married Philippe Chuit and her older brother, Frédéric Firmenich, joined the company as a salesman in 1900. Fred Firmenich (first generation, 1874–1953) soon took over the group’s sales and distribution operations, while Chuit remained the guiding force behind the company’s growing list of products. In order to concentrate on his passion for research, Chuit sold his shares in the company to Fred Firmenich in 1910, and as the majority new partner in the business, Fred took over as the group’s leader. Chuit continued to remain active in the company’s research and development (R&D) for another two decades. In 1917 Fred’s brother Hugo (first generation, 1880–1975) joined the company and later became his partner. In 1933, the company came under the complete control of the Firmenich family, taking on the name Firmenich & Cie, which was later changed to Firmenich SA. Today, thanks to their long-term vision, an excellent business performance has earned them global market leadership and a global presence in 64 countries. Everyday about 2 billion people worldwide use a product fragranced or flavoured by Firmenich, enjoying the unique sensorial experience it offers them. An ice cream in the United States, a perfume in France, a soap in China, a beverage in Mexico, a shampoo in India and a medicine in Nigeria are just a few examples of the life enriching moments that the Group’s expertise in smell and taste provide.