“We only focus on fragrances- that’s our love and that’s our passion”

Chris Pickthall, CEO, CPL Aromas talks about the company’s approach to the business, their employees’ contribution to their growth and a secret technology that’s transforming their business – Aromafusion

As CEO of CPL, Chris Pickthall is responsible for the expansion of the business but that doesn’t stop him from meeting his clients, existing as well as newer ones, almost every day! Traveling extensively to the company’s 17 international locations and being in touch with what’s evolving in the industry seems to have helped him position CPL where they are today – one of the leading perfume houses in the region.

ParfumPlus tries to get some more insight during this conversation with Chris Pickthal, CEO, CPL Aromas.

ParfumPlus (PP): Hi Chris. What are the key factors that have influenced the success of CPL Aromas?

Chris Pickthall (CP): Amongst the many, there are two main factors that have influenced our success. One of them is definitely, the strength and contribution of our employees around the world. We have over 600 talented and committed people working with us. We work with them, we support them and help them grow. This is why I think  we do a great job as a team.

Another critical thing is that we are clear in our positioning. We know exactly who we sell to and who we don’t sell to. We do not supply to multinational brands around the world. We only cater to national brands, local brands, niche brands and private labels. We give our best attention and best focus. When in competition with the largest FMCG brands, we support our customers and that is main the reason behind their success and our success.

Also the difference between us and the largest of the fragrance houses is that we don’t do flavours, we don’t do food, we don’t do ingredients, we only focus on fragrances- that’s our love and that’s our passion.

PP: Could you share a few interesting highlights of the company in the year gone by?

CP: There have been a lot of investments. We are building a new factory in Bogota, in Colombia which is operational by Christmas, this year. We already have a big factory there, but this will be a large one catering to the large Latin American market. We have also invested substantially acquiring a warehouse and office in Mumbai which we will be developing into a multi-purpose creative perfumery center that will spearhead our efforts in India.

PP: What about your Fine Fragrance unit?

CP: Fine fragrance process is probably our biggest product areas that we are all really passionate about. A couple of years ago, we a fine fragrance unit with a team, of highly professional, highly specific  selling to just a few fine fragrance brands around the world and that’s been a fantastic success, using our Aromafusion technology.

PP: What about AromaFusion Technology?

CP: Aromafusion is a range of captive ingredients exclusive to CPL. We have about 10 Aromafusion ingredients available to our perfumers currently. They cover a range of different odor areas and the customers love the diversity.

Clients always seek innovation, they want things to be different, something new to the market and these captive ingredients allow perfumers to create such different and newer products, that their customers have never smelt before!

The ingredients are now more creative and  more innovative. Aromafusion provides another level of creativity that sets our clients brands apart making it difficult for other brands and other fragrance houses to copy their products.

PP: What are the challenges that CPL has overcome in the last 12 months in the domain of perfumery?

CP: Well, the region has been very unstable. There have been a lot of issues in different countries. But we have done a fantastic job in managing in a very difficult situation. We are the only fragrance company in Dubai with a full-service manufacturing facility.

So that helped us in delivering the products quickly on time into the region. The other thing is that there has been a huge supply crisis for raw materials in 2017 and into 2018. The ingredients were either unavailable or the prices went up dramatically.

But since we are a private company, debt free and well-funded, we went out into the market early, as soon as we heard about the problems, and bought fragrance ingredients worth millions of dollars.

The reason for this was to guarantee that supply to our customers didn’t get affected, that our customers got exactly the same formulation, same quality of products, and on time! It was a job well done. So our customers were thrilled to have this from us and we are more than happy when our clients are satisfied.

PP: With your busy schedule do you find time to figure out what’s new out there?

CP: Yes, these days I try to find time to spend on digital. We have done a couple of investments in digital recently and the process is really exciting. There are a few things that will hopefully change in 2018. We will have a customer portal where a customer is able to access lots of information online, without going through any customer service.

For instance, accessing regulatory documents, shipping documents, information when the fragrances would be delivered online, all these kind of things should be available online hopefully by 2018.

We also worked with a couple of customers who want to launch fragrance brands specifically on digital and selling online only. We will be investing in those companies and will launch them in 2018.

In 2017, we worked with one of the best selling fragrances in the UK and it was a pure digital retailer who launched a fragrance for the first time. The digital distribution was done so well that the fragrance has made a huge success in the market.

PP: How does CPL Aromas approach the topic of sustainability?

CP: Sustainability is very important to us. We have helped in setting up COFVI, the College Of Fragrance for the Visually impaired in Mumbai. It is now a given that the visually impaired people can smell two-and-a-half times better than those who are sighted.

A tailor-made course is now available for those who want to take advantage of their olfactory sense and want to work in the perfume industry. Then there is the Black Pepper and Sandalwood project in Sri Lanka, which we support, through which the locals get employment and we source our ingredients.

We also worked closely with CAFOD, a global charity organisation which helps and supports the poorest of poor around the world. We have also invested in solar panels in Dubai and in our factory in Colombia.

We also worked closely with CAFOD, a global charity organisation which helps and supports the poorest of poor around the world. We have also invested in solar panels in Dubai and in our factory in Colombia.

PP: We understand that CPL shares a great employee management policy. Do you credit CPL’s success to its employees?

CP: Absolutely. They are everything we have as a company and we have 600 employees around the world and we have a great program internally.

We always try to promote from within where possible and take on young people, to train them and support them and help them to develop within the company to deliver their own career aspirations and more than any other country it is most true in Dubai, where there are so many young, hungry, talented employees who want to get on and want to earn money and want to develop. In CPL they get a great company where we train them, support them and help them to develop.