Givaudan : “Together, We Create A Positive Impact…”

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Givaudan - "Together, We Create A Positive Impact…"

With 181 locations worldwide, 77 production sites, 69 creation and application centers and 15,852 full time employees, Givaudan continues to innovate and grow. In this issue, we invite Xavier Renard, Global Head, Fine Fragrances, to share his insights about the direction of growth for Givaudan

Xavier Renard started out as a perfumer and then chose to explore the other domains of the perfume industry. In his career spanning more than 3 decades, he can confidently lay claim to understanding the area of fine fragrances. As Head of Fine Fragrances Europe since 2017 then Global Head of Fine Fragrance since 2021, he has helped shape the vision and is now in the process of achieving that vision. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

ParfumPlus (PP) : Having studied perfumery at Robertet in 1983 and then starting off with Givaudan and now back in Givaudan, can you please encapsulate your career, for the benefit of our readers?

Xavier Renard (X R) : Yes, right out of finishing a first year of college in the US, I attended a perfumery school in Grasse. I then had the amazing opportunity to join Givaudan in Geneva, Hong Kong and New York. For 20 years, I had different experiences in the industry moving from the perfumer expertise to more business oriented positions. Now, I am back at Givaudan since 2017 and so aligned with the vision, the purpose and the DNA of the company.

PP : After more than 3 decades in the industry, what is your motivation?

X R : If you are going to work in the fragrance business, in any function, you need to have a passion for the world of perfume and perfume creation. That is the reason why I went to perfumery school in Grasse as opposed to continuing my chemistry studies in Southern California.

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This passion, I have always had it and I still do and because I am very curious by nature and I have always wanted to understand the other roles and functions in our industry without ever losing this passion that I have for fragrances.

PP : Tell us a bit about Xavier, the perfumer and whether you miss being a perfumer?

X R : I am very proud of the fragrances I have created but then came a moment for me to move on. I don’t miss being a perfumer as I am still very involved in the development of many fragrances. And I enjoy it. It is also very reassuring for our customers to know that, when dealing with Givaudan and with me, they are dealing with a perfumer…

PP : Givaudan has been in the news recently for its initiatives in India, China and Mexico. Is this a sign of a newer direction of growth?

X R : It is a sign of continuous improvement, expansion  and always trying to be best in class. It is directly linked to our 2025 vision which is reinforcing our leadership in fragrances overall.

We intend to achieve this vision by

  • Growing together with our customers, 
  • Being their partner of choice in all categories
  • Creating inspiring solutions for happier, healthier lives
  • Nurturing a place where people love working

We will keep our  investment and acquisition strategy based on our long term vision.

PP : The recent acquisition of Myrissi and the TMall association show Givaudan’s seriousness about technology. What kind of plans do you have for the future in terms of technology?

X R : We take our digital strategy very seriously. I believe we are the only fragrance house to have invested in a digital factory. The aim is very simple : we want to speed up the creative process, make it more relevant to our customers and consumers’ needs without ever touching on our perfumers’ creative talents. On the contrary, everything we do, should further enhance our perfumers’ creativity.

PP : What are the initiatives that Givaudan has taken towards ‘Responsible Sourcing’ and ‘Sustainability’?

X R : Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and this is anchored in our company’s purpose “Creating with love for Nature”.

This has translated into a lot of programs and initiatives, for years

  • At the corporate level, we have the ambitious target to be Carbon Neutral by 2030. We are a candidate to become a B-corp company, meaning a “force for good”.

  • Regarding our sourcing of raw materials, we have been editing our first responsible sourcing charter since way back in 2013. We have evolved and our program ‘SourcingForGood’ is even wider now. Our target is to source all materials and services in a way that protects people and the environment by 2030. 

  • Regarding Natural ingredients, we have been pioneers in ethical sourcing for 15 years now, with programs to support local communities involved in the production of Vetiver in Haiti, Vanilla in Madagascar, Ylang Ylang in Comoros, Benjoin in Laos, etc. Those programs have grown year after year, and it goes from building health centers and access to water, to training those communities for best practices.

However, what is going to drive positive impacts in the future, is that we are also changing the way we formulate fragrances, taking into account those new eco-parameters in the formulation itself. Creating and selling fragrances to our clients which are still superb and great olfactive signatures, though matching the urgency to reduce our environmental impacts. This is our Naturality platform. A fantastic and exciting shift towards nature conscious creations.

And This Encompasses

  • a major evolution of the Perfumer’s palette towards sustainable “nature-conscious” ingredients, like new biotech ingredients, or ingredients coming from upcycling,

  • and new formulation tools like our Naturality Index, which allows them to assess the environmental impact of the formula that they are creating and see how they can improve it from this standpoint.

So you see, sustainability is always at the heart of what we do : create fragrances.

PP : What strikes you most about the Middle East in terms of usage and preference of fragrance amongst consumers?

X R : The love that the Middle East consumers have for fragrances is like music to my ears. It’s fascinating to realise that this love for fragrances is embedded in the culture, even in the DNA.

It is also very interesting to note that this love that the Middle East consumers have for woody and oudh fragrances has moved globally to various parts of the world. As I walk the streets of Paris, it is no longer unusual to smell a typical middle eastern fragrance.

Personally, I love it. I love the richness of the scent, the way fragrances are built, highlighting an ingredient or an accord. Middle Eastern fragrances are definitely not shy but neither are they overwhelming.

And it is not just an oil and alcohol mixed in a bottle... fragrances are a ritual in this part of the world, and much respected for that.

PP : Do you have any special message for the Middle East market about what they can expect from Givaudan in the near future?

X R : We want to make sure when you work with Givaudan, you have access to all the best creative resources worldwide, best in class innovations and best quality raw materials. And together, we create a positive impact on the world and the environment.

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