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.

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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).

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
14repro-1940-1950

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.

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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.

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.

01repro
01repro

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.

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.