einar-willumsen-logo Einar Willumsen

einar-willumsen-logo Einar Willumsen

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120 years with Einar Willumsen

Then and now

This year we celebrate our 120th anniversary by looking through the decades. In 1901 the company was founded by Einar Willumsen at Frederiksborggade no. 4 in Copenhagen. Einar was a man who understood the market at that time. He had been a senior manager by one of the largest flavour producers in Copenhagen, and now he wanted to create his own and a better business. Today – 120 years later, the company still bears his name.

From the beginning he focused on making flavours and concentrates for beverages, ice creams, pastries and spirits. He began producing simple distillates of strawberries, raspberries, lemons and oranges followed by blackcurrants, pineapples and apples and other soft fruits. Citrus fruits were carefully peeled using hand-held equipment. Only the outer part of the peel with its essential oils was used at the factory in Copenhagen – and in 1904 also at the newly started factory in Malmö.

1980-1990

Then and now: During the 1980s and 1990s sales to private individuals nearly stopped. Instead, the company decided to focus on developing even more complex flavours. Major breweries were especially attractive as potential customers, although the company remained eager to serve the existing customer base of smaller companies.

Einar Willumsen’s production facilities were rationalised and modernised, both in Denmark and in Sweden. Traditional ceramic storage jars for concentrates and flavourings were replaced by stainless steel tanks. Considerable investments in modern technology permitted even more precise distillation and extraction of natural flavours.

As for customers, two most crucial factors for them are fair pricing and fast and efficient service. A product launch is often a part of a marketing strategy and there is no time for delays. New ice cream cannot be launched a few months late and miss the summer months; a mulled wine mix must be ready for Christmas. There are rigorous demands that flavour manufacturers and their suppliers must fulfil. Among other requirements, they must ensure that spices, fruit juices, and other raw materials are available when required. Einar Willumsen has always spread the risk as evenly as possible, building up a network of reliable suppliers around the world. If a shortage happens in one area, it should always be possible to source the raw ingredients elsewhere.

Former foreman and factory chief in Malmö remembers the transition in the 1980s, when everyone worked hard to ramp up the business and make the company more competitive. “We produced huge amounts, so our volumes increased rapidly, which put enormous pressure on the production staff”.

It was a time when new ideas were introduced, more and more raw materials came in, and inventories expanded. It really was a revolutionary time. Einar Willumsen went from having a lot of smaller customers to dealing with ever bigger customers. But we were – and always are – careful never to abandon our old clients. This initiative required a great deal of travelling to find new customers and establish our name in the industry. The outside world had changed, and Einar Willumsen succeeded in keeping pace and really deliver.

Einar Willumsen started to sell to multinational companies, something that was previously unthinkable. Some customers also began to make other demands. Lifecycle of some products began to shorten as manufacturer experimented boldly. If an experiment proved to be successful, the volumes would increase rapidly; on the other hand, a product would be quickly discarded if it did not sell well.

Einar Willumsen’s flavours and concentrates were now in everything from cider to pickled herring. The company itself had transitioned into a modern, high-tech enterprise.

1970-1980

The company decides to shift their focus away from private customers and small breweries and begins to sell flavours and other products to the food and beverage industry. Einar Willumsen’s factory was located on a piece of land owned by the city of Malmö. Unexpectedly, the city announced a plan to build the new city hall on that location in 1970s. Einar Willumsen was forced to look for new premises. They chose a site in the Elisedal industrial estate and had expanded that location gradually since.

The Swedish subsidiary also began to grow their business by selling extracts and essences to many so-called “mineral water bottling plants”. These ‘pharmaceutical’ enterprises often functioned as a front for illegal breweries and distilleries. Einar Willumsen sold to these factories, but also directly to their customers. Indeed, it soon became customary for the public to mix Einar Willumsen’s extracts with spirits from bottling plants. The brand became a firm favourite among those who enjoyed stronger drinks with a bit of flavour.

1970-1980

The company decides to shift their focus away from private customers and small breweries and begins to sell flavours and other products to the food and beverage industry. Einar Willumsen’s factory was located on a piece of land owned by the city of Malmö. Unexpectedly, the city announced a plan to build the new city hall on that location in 1970s. Einar Willumsen was forced to look for new premises. They chose a site in the Elisedal industrial estate and had expanded that location gradually since.

The Swedish subsidiary also began to grow their business by selling extracts and essences to many so-called “mineral water bottling plants”. These ‘pharmaceutical’ enterprises often functioned as a front for illegal breweries and distilleries. Einar Willumsen sold to these factories, but also directly to their customers. Indeed, it soon became customary for the public to mix Einar Willumsen’s extracts with spirits from bottling plants. The brand became a firm favourite among those who enjoyed stronger drinks with a bit of flavour.

1960-1970

In Einar Willumsen we have always kept up with times. The 1960s brought new business opportunities. New soda machines became common in restaurants, cafes, and canteens, which created demand for new flavour solutions. Significant demands for soda flavours in the European and global markets shifted EW’s focus, and it became the main business area for the company. The last of EW’s own branded products – the soft drink “Citronil”, which was created and marketed by Einar Willumsen himself – was finally discontinued in 1968. Since then, the company’s main strategy was to create and sell flavours to the food and beverage industries. In absence of own branded consumer products, the company became less noticeable among consumers.

Einar Willumsen sought to grow its business and focused on developing even more complex but still flexible flavour solutions. The company focused on expanding the customer base of smaller food and beverages producers as well as targeted major breweries. In 1969 the Danish office and production facilities moved from Studiestræde 57 in central Copenhagen to today’s facility at Abildager 23-25 in Brøndby, just outside Copenhagen. The Einar Willumsen production facilities were modernised, both in Brøndby and in Malmö. Stainless steel tanks for concentrates and flavourings replaced traditional ceramic storage jars. Considerable amounts were spent on introducing modern technology that permitted even more precise distillation and extraction of natural products.

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1950-1960

In 1950 several small Danish manufacturers launched cola drinks onto the local market. The story starts with a Danish movie star Tove Mäes that had been missing the taste of the magic Coca-cola after she returned from the USA. After she tasted a Danish cola drink “O’Cola, created by Cheeri-O’s, Tove happily declared that “O’Cola was the best cola in the world”. However, despite this enthusiastic endorsement, O’Cola did not become a success in the long run and the company soon had to shut down.
Development of Danish cola drinks from other smaller manufacturers was inspired by the success of Coca-cola in the US. That did not go unnoticed by the Danish brewery associations and mineral water manufacturers. Danish consumers could get a cola drink even though the Danish market was not officially open for Coca-cola. These three opponents – The Coca-Cola Company, Brewery Association and The Danish Mineral Water Supply as well as Danish political parties were measuring each other up.

The Coca-Cola Company filed a lawsuit in 1952 in the Maritime and Trade County against all Danish manufacturers of cola extract in Denmark and Sweden, including Einar Willumsen. The disputable point in the lawsuit was the word “cola”. The Coca-Cola company attempted to claim the right to the word as their trademark, which would make it difficult to produce competitive products in Denmark. It was an unprecedented historical legal battle about the trademark concept.
Although there was little doubt that Danish producers were more than inspired by Coca-Cola, it was a very difficult case to prove in court. The lawsuit was dismissed but lasted for two more years due to the appeal to the Danish Supreme Court. In 1953 a special high tax was introduced to turn cola drinks into expensive luxury products and therefore limit their market potential. Although the tax was annulled in 1959, the war for market shares between the international giant and local producers continues to this day.
Original source: Tørstens allerbedste ven COLA’ENS DANMARKSHISTORIE FRA 1930’ERNE TIL 1960’ERNE AF KLAUS PETERSEN & NILS ARNE SØRENSEN

1950-1960

In 1950 several small Danish manufacturers launched cola drinks onto the local market. The story starts with a Danish movie star Tove Mäes that had been missing the taste of the magic Coca-cola after she returned from the USA. After she tasted a Danish cola drink “O’Cola, created by Cheeri-O’s, Tove happily declared that “O’Cola was the best cola in the world”. However, despite this enthusiastic endorsement, O’Cola did not become a success in the long run and the company soon had to shut down.
Development of Danish cola drinks from other smaller manufacturers was inspired by the success of Coca-cola in the US. That did not go unnoticed by the Danish brewery associations and mineral water manufacturers. Danish consumers could get a cola drink even though the Danish market was not officially open for Coca-cola. These three opponents – The Coca-Cola Company, Brewery Association and The Danish Mineral Water Supply as well as Danish political parties were measuring each other up.

The Coca-Cola Company filed a lawsuit in 1952 in the Maritime and Trade County against all Danish manufacturers of cola extract in Denmark and Sweden, including Einar Willumsen. The disputable point in the lawsuit was the word “cola”. The Coca-Cola company attempted to claim the right to the word as their trademark, which would make it difficult to produce competitive products in Denmark. It was an unprecedented historical legal battle about the trademark concept.
Although there was little doubt that Danish producers were more than inspired by Coca-Cola, it was a very difficult case to prove in court. The lawsuit was dismissed but lasted for two more years due to the appeal to the Danish Supreme Court. In 1953 a special high tax was introduced to turn cola drinks into expensive luxury products and therefore limit their market potential. Although the tax was annulled in 1959, the war for market shares between the international giant and local producers continues to this day.
Original source: Tørstens allerbedste ven COLA’ENS DANMARKSHISTORIE FRA 1930’ERNE TIL 1960’ERNE AF KLAUS PETERSEN & NILS ARNE SØRENSEN

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1950-1960

In the 1950s, AB Einar Willumsen moved the factory to a new location in Andréelundsvägen in the city centre to the site of a former brewery and margarine factory. In a report from 1956, the board of the Swedish subsidiary explained that growing interest in ‘natural juices’ required them to expand their existing warehousing. Fruit juices and concentrates arrived from Europe and overseas in early spring and would be put in production during the following twelve months: ‘Now we can store up to 250 tonnes of concentrated juice in our wonderful, cool, old beer cellars’, the report says.

In 1956, Fanny Willumsen donated her share of the company to create “Fabrikant Einar Willumsens Mindelegat” foundation which is the majority shareholder in Einar Willumsen to this day. The foundation is the key ingredient of our success. It has ensured the long-term viability and allowed us to avoid fluctuations that can follow abrupt changes in ownership. Stable ownership provided a productive environment with a single focus: to deliver on our five signature values – speed, taste, innovation, reliability and flexibility. Fanny Willumsen never retired and worked right up to her death (1956).

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1940-1950

The Depression was followed by a new and devastating world war. In 1945 Copenhagen was bombed by Allied forces, with airstrikes against the German occupying forces’ headquarters close to Einar Willumsen’s premises at Studiestræde 57. In 1940 Hitler ordered the invasion of Denmark. For a while, the Danish government continued to lead the country, but under German administration and occupation. This state of affairs had a direct impact on Einar Willumsen’s business. The factories in Copenhagen and Malmö could no longer operate properly together. The manager who had commuted on the Øresund ferry could no longer get to Sweden, leaving the factory in Malmö without technical leadership.

Denmark, like much of Europe, was cut off from the countries that supplied the firm’s raw ingredients, making the crisis even more deeply felt. Costs rose in general, but Einar Willumsen did not raise its prices, and its stocks of raw ingredients quickly dwindled. The minutes of the board meetings from the time do not openly reference it, but clearly, there was trepidation about the state of the world. The minutes also show that board meetings often shifted locations in Copenhagen for safety reasons. Communication with Malmö was intermittent.

Following the RAF bombing raid on Gestapo headquarters in Shellhuset in central Copenhagen in March 1945, Einar Willumsen’s board met and decided to evacuate the factory completely, as their premises were only a few streets away. Staff took cover in the cellars during the air raids and reemerged to help extinguish fires in the area between bombardments. The company’s stock of raw ingredients and other valuables were dispersed to various addresses around the city. However, in the event, the premises in Studiestræde suffered little real damage during the war. They were also under constant watch by staff, who were guarding a distillation still that was too large to move. In order to boost the flavour industry during the tough years of rationing, an Essence Manufacturers’ Association was founded in Denmark in 1945. Einar Willumsen was a founding member of the organisation. The hope for the firms who joined forces was that they could negotiate the lifting of some of the strict import regulations with the government. The association changed its name in 1991 to DFO, Dansk Flavour Organisation, and is still in operation today.

1940-1950

The Depression was followed by a new and devastating world war. In 1945 Copenhagen was bombed by Allied forces, with airstrikes against the German occupying forces’ headquarters close to Einar Willumsen’s premises at Studiestræde 57. In 1940 Hitler ordered the invasion of Denmark. For a while, the Danish government continued to lead the country, but under German administration and occupation. This state of affairs had a direct impact on Einar Willumsen’s business. The factories in Copenhagen and Malmö could no longer operate properly together. The manager who had commuted on the Øresund ferry could no longer get to Sweden, leaving the factory in Malmö without technical leadership.

Denmark, like much of Europe, was cut off from the countries that supplied the firm’s raw ingredients, making the crisis even more deeply felt. Costs rose in general, but Einar Willumsen did not raise its prices, and its stocks of raw ingredients quickly dwindled. The minutes of the board meetings from the time do not openly reference it, but clearly, there was trepidation about the state of the world. The minutes also show that board meetings often shifted locations in Copenhagen for safety reasons. Communication with Malmö was intermittent.

Following the RAF bombing raid on Gestapo headquarters in Shellhuset in central Copenhagen in March 1945, Einar Willumsen’s board met and decided to evacuate the factory completely, as their premises were only a few streets away. Staff took cover in the cellars during the air raids and reemerged to help extinguish fires in the area between bombardments. The company’s stock of raw ingredients and other valuables were dispersed to various addresses around the city. However, in the event, the premises in Studiestræde suffered little real damage during the war. They were also under constant watch by staff, who were guarding a distillation still that was too large to move. In order to boost the flavour industry during the tough years of rationing, an Essence Manufacturers’ Association was founded in Denmark in 1945. Einar Willumsen was a founding member of the organisation. The hope for the firms who joined forces was that they could negotiate the lifting of some of the strict import regulations with the government. The association changed its name in 1991 to DFO, Dansk Flavour Organisation, and is still in operation today.

14repro-1940-1950

1930-1940

World War 1, followed by the Wall Street Crash in 1929, and the chaos of the interwar years, struck a series of hard blows to commercial life, even in neutral Denmark. Import-dependent companies such as Einar Willumsen, whose products required everything from essential oils to imported juice concentrates, were badly affected.

Through the toughest periods, Einar Willumsen was forced to cut wages in order to survive, and some workers, therefore, left to seek positions elsewhere, but many workers chose to stay in spite of this. Those who chose to stay would eventually enjoy special recognition and gratitude, and when Einar Willumsen died, he bequeathed shares in the company to several employees.

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1920-1930

The head office was placed in Studiestræde 57 near the centre of Copenhagen city, Tivoli and Rådhuspladsen. In 1929 Einar Willumsen loses his battle with cancer and dies aged 57. He leaves the majority share to his sister Fanny Willumsen. The firm becomes a limited company. By the time Einar Willumsen died in 1929, his small firm had been transformed into a company with a million Danish kroner in share capital. However, his death came just as the Great Depression hit the world economy. Within only a few years the value of Denmark’s exports would fall by half and the country would face mass unemployment.

In the 1920s, several laws were passed in Denmark designed to ensure women’s equality with men in education and the workplace. Yet, just as in Sweden and other parts of the world, the proportion of women in powerful roles still remained small. Fanny must have been a strong role model for women in business and professional life during this time. She certainly proved a charismatic leader, with a firm stance on the direction the company should take. In her will, she wrote of the importance of the company’s continued focus on the production of flavours and essences.

1920-1930

The head office was placed in Studiestræde 57 near the centre of Copenhagen city, Tivoli and Rådhuspladsen. In 1929 Einar Willumsen loses his battle with cancer and dies aged 57. He leaves the majority share to his sister Fanny Willumsen. The firm becomes a limited company. By the time Einar Willumsen died in 1929, his small firm had been transformed into a company with a million Danish kroner in share capital. However, his death came just as the Great Depression hit the world economy. Within only a few years the value of Denmark’s exports would fall by half and the country would face mass unemployment.

In the 1920s, several laws were passed in Denmark designed to ensure women’s equality with men in education and the workplace. Yet, just as in Sweden and other parts of the world, the proportion of women in powerful roles still remained small. Fanny must have been a strong role model for women in business and professional life during this time. She certainly proved a charismatic leader, with a firm stance on the direction the company should take. In her will, she wrote of the importance of the company’s continued focus on the production of flavours and essences.

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1910-1920

In 1918 Europe was paralysed by the battles of World War I. Millions of people were killed, as ever more deadly weapons were put into action around the world. Even though Denmark and Sweden asserted their neutrality and remained outside the conflict, the consequences of the war were keenly felt. The all-important Danish shipping routes had been blockaded and foreign trade abruptly cut off. Bread prices rose and the government introduced rationing on food and other products in the final years of the war. Einar Willumsen had run the business since 1901 with the full responsibility for the growing company.

As a businessman, Einar Willumsen was determined that the company should stand on its own feet. He was known for his meticulous checks on the company finances. When machinery and stock were purchased they were paid immediately. He insisted that all bills should be settled before the start of a new financial year on 1 January— even if the goods were delivered on 31 December. The company bank balance, stock, and accounts receivable were the only items to be recognized in the firm’s books. There were absolutely no loans. Everything had to be paid for in cash.

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At Einar Willumsen we consider our customers consumers and what we want the taste reaction to be. Our expertise is to combine science and our understanding of the market place to deliver the optimum results in our products.