Swiss fragrance company Firmenich expands Singapore presence with $13m creative centre

(From left to right) Firmenich president of perfumery and ingredients Mr Armand de Villoutreys, chairman of Singapore's  Economic Development Board Mr Beh Swan Gin, Firmenich chief executive Mr Gilbert Ghostine and Firmenich Singapore general manager
(From left to right) Firmenich president of perfumery and ingredients Mr Armand de Villoutreys, chairman of Singapore's Economic Development Board Mr Beh Swan Gin, Firmenich chief executive Mr Gilbert Ghostine and Firmenich Singapore general manager Mr Rajan Arul at the official opening of Swiss-based firm's global perfumery creative center at Science Park on Monday (Sept 18). PHOTO: FIRMENICH

SINGAPORE - Swiss-based Firmenich, the world's second-largest fragrance and flavour company, has expanded its presence in Singapore with the opening of a $13 million Global Perfumery Creative Centre at Science Park on Monday (Sept 18).

The 3,500 sq m state-of-the-art facility now houses the company's leadership teams for three product categories - hair care, soap bars and detergent powders.

The facility includes everything from washing machines and dryers to mock-up hair salons, for the scientists and perfumers in the local office to produce and evaluate fragrances.

These fragrances are sold to clients, typically household product manufacturers, who then use these fragrances to make their final products.

The new creative centre even includes "climatic labs", in which staff can replicate the climatic conditions of certain countries and seasons - say, summer in Brazil or winter in China - to test how their fragrances would hold up in those climates.

"We have been present and continuously investing in Singapore since 1974, a strategic growth hub for Firmenich across Asia and also globally," said Firmenich chief executive Gilbert Ghostine.

"This new creative facility reinforces our commitment to deliver the most innovative, consumer-focused fragrance solutions to our clients and their consumers."

Firmenich set foot in Singapore 43 years ago with the opening of a representative office. In 1991, it opened a manufacturing plant in Tuas, which continues to operate.

The 120-year-old firm, which is still 100 per cent owned by the Firmenich family, has a direct presence in over 100 markets, with 30 manufacturing facilities worldwide.

It works with a plethora of multinational clients. It requested that media refrain from naming any of these companies, but it is not difficult to guess who they may be - just think of the top brand names in food and beverage and household products.

It also works with luxury brands such as Calvin Klein and Kenzo to make perfume.

Last year, revenue grew over 8 per cent to 3.2 billion Swiss francs (S$4.5 billion).

"In every house you would have at least 20 brands that use Firmenich fragrances or flavours," Mr Ghostine said.

In Singapore, the firm has about 300 employees, including a few perfumers - a highly-skilled and prestigious role. It has 88 perfumers worldwide, including eight in Asia.

"There are more astronauts than perfumers in the world. It's a very refined metier," Mr Ghostine said, using the French word for "job".

Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board, said in a statement that Firmenich's new creative centre is a significant addition to Singapore's ecosystem for consumer businesses, and a strong testament to Singapore's attractiveness as a global business and innovation hub.

"It builds on and expands the integral role that Singapore plays in Firmenich's growth in Asia-Pacific."