Since its 1980s inception in a Fulham flat, spa and retail brand Aromatherapy Associates has been a leader in wellness. But can it bounce back from the 2016 death of its founder? Director sits down with its new CEO to talk grief, global sales and guiding vision
An unassuming unit on a Brentford trading estate may seem an unlikely headquarters for a luxury spa brand with turnover of £20m, over 200 staff worldwide and stockists in 40 countries. But this is a company that believes in creating beauty from the inside out.
Aromatherapy Associates was founded on the holistic practice of aromatherapy, which uses natural oils extracted from plants to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing. The oils are inhaled or absorbed through the skin and it’s in these Brentford premises that Aromatherapy Associates’ potions are concocted to awaken, de-stress, revive, nourish and relax. “All of our essential oils are first-pressed,” explains Tracey Woodward, who joined as chief executive in April 2016. “Imagine a tea bag – it’s not the sixth cup of mint tea, it’s the first. Lots of brands might use third, fourth or fifth press, so the potency of our products is exceptional which is why they have the power to change how you feel.”
A beauty industry veteran, Woodward has worked with several major global brands including Donna Karan, Aveda, Marks & Spencer and Urban Retreat at Harrods, and was brought in to Aromatherapy Associates last year to get the company back on its feet after the devastating loss of founder Geraldine Howard. “My success comes from dismantling organisations and putting them back together again for the greater good,” she says.
“When I joined last year we had 20 per cent out-of-stocks, the company was grieving for the founder and it had gone through two private equity companies,” Woodward tells Director. “It had gone through an enormous amount of change, not all of it good, so it had lost its identity…