Our history: 1976 to 2020

1976-1996: Restructuring around pharmacy and cosmetics

In 1975, several people joined the Gattefossé management team from outside the family. First Libéro Penna, then Bernard Glas, followed by Bernard Perrot, who from 1986 carried out important work restructuring the business in line with industrial modernization. In terms of the family, a fourth generation of Gattefossés joined the business at the end of the 1970s and Marcel’s son-in-law, Jacques Moyrand, took charge of expanding the company’s export network. Émile’s son, Bruno Mahler, was given responsibility for technical development.
Jacques Moyrand en 1980In 1980, the business celebrated its 100th anniversary. It now had a presence in 42 different countries. Gattefossé was the world’s second-biggest supplier of suppository base material, the third-largest European supplier of fatty acid esters and the world’s second-most supplier of plant extracts for cosmetics.
At the start of the 1980s, Gattefossé decided to speed up the process of international development. Jacques Moyrand (on the picture in 1980) was keen to make it a mainstay of the organization. The new strategy meant establishing a direct presence in countries with significant possibilities for growth. So, between 1979 and 1989, Gattefossé opened branches in Switzerland, Spain, Germany and Italy. Elsewhere, the business continued to work with distributors to sell the company’s products.
The creation of subsidiaries necessarily led to the emergence of a group, which was made official in 1994. A year previously, the company had launched Gattefossé France, a subsidiary focused exclusively on French commercial development. Gattefossé France Director, François Wagmann, launched a new magazine targeted at both formulators and marketing teams in the cosmetics industry. The magazine, entitled AddiActive, took a light-hearted tone (which soon became its trademark) to report on scientific data, trends in the beauty industry and examples of formulations using Gattefossé products.
The business was soon restructured in line with its client base, splitting into two to represent the company’s two target markets: cosmetics and pharmacy. Meanwhile, Gattefossé fostered the creation of a strong marketing component within its development strategy. This led to the emergence of ranges and offers segmented according to application (oral, topical, rectal, etc.) or applicative properties (emulsifying, active, soluble, etc.) as opposed to chemical definition, as was previously the case.
In terms of production facilities, Bernard Perrot pressed forward with developing the manufacturing facilities at Saint-Priest so they would meet rising standards and more demanding requirements. Everything needed to be reviewed so the group could pursue its aspirations to expand. This meant improving processes, integrating frameworks and quality assurance standards in production, ensuring that accounts were legible for each and every activity, and that the company had clear control over distribution in every location worldwide.
Bourgeon de hêtre beech tree buds

In 1992, Gattefossé worked with Professor Pourrat at Clermont-Ferrand University to develop an extraction process using Super-High-Frequency technology which preserves the natural characteristics of fresh plants. Their work led to the creation of Gatuline® R (for Regeneration) which comprised an active ingredient derived from the extraction of beech tree buds (see image). Gatuline® R would go on to become one of the company’s most iconic products, strengthening its position in the phytocosmetic industry. Over the years to come, ten or so additional products would be added to the Gatuline® range.

With the creation of Gatuline® R, Gattefossé was marking a decisive shift in the direction of the business, completely moving away from active ingredients of human origin (placental extracts) and bovine origin (collagen), focusing instead on renewable, targeted products exclusively derived from plants. This complete transformation would affect the whole group for a number of years, from R&D to production, marketing and sales.
Another significant advancement in cosmetics was “sensoriality” and this meant developing sensorial expertise. In 1996, Gattefossé laid the groundwork for fostering this new knowledge by creating a sensory panel, a group of fifteen employees trained to specialize in the measurement and standardization of the look, smell and feel of cosmetic formulations: in other words, the criteria a consumer would consider when choosing a product. Over the years, this expertise would serve to differentiate the business from its competitors.
On the pharmacy side of the company, the 1990s saw the creation of SMEDDS (Self Microemulsifying Drug Delivery Systems), which were patented in 1995. SMEDDS marked the start of a long period in which Gattefossé would have to convince the pharmaceutical industry of the use of lipid-based systems and their ability to allow active ingredients with limited solubility to be absorbed into the body. From this point on, the company would focus its efforts on formulation technologies and drug delivery rather than creating new excipients.
In 1996, Bernard Perrot decided to leave the company following disagreements with the Gattefossé family regarding the structure and management of the business. He was replaced by Jacques Moyrand.


1997-2020: A growing, resilient international organization

In 1997, Jacques Moyrand agreed to take over from Bernard Perrot as Chairman of the organization and the company was once more in growth mode. In just two years, turnover increased significantly, and in 1999 exports accounted for over 50% of sales.
The potential for international development was further strengthened in 2001 through the launch of Gattefossé Export Direct (GED), a unit responsible for establishing a presence in countries where there was no Gattefossé subsidiary. The strategy for conquering new markets was, therefore, to create new subsidiaries, especially in far-flung countries, which led to India and China becoming part of the company in 2007. Both subsidiaries were sizeable, and commercial and scientific teams were brought on board to help local clients with formulations. Two application laboratories were set up, one in Shanghai, the other in Mumbai, both identical to the one in Saint-Priest. This was a first for Gattefossé. The reason for doing this was linked to geographical distance from France; clients in India and China needed someone from Gattefossé in-situ to guide them through their projects. Ten years later, an applications laboratory was set up at Gattefossé in the United States for exactly the same reason.
Throughout the 2000s, several new subsidiaries came into being: Gattefossé do Brasil in 2012, Gattefossé Asia Pacific in Singapore in 2014, and Gattefossé Méditerranée in Tunis in 2016.
In 2009, Gattefossé was keen to safeguard production, and it reached out to the Italian company Faci, which had an oleochemical production facility in Singapore. In 2013, this facility was ready to deliver on its first orders. This was an important milestone, as it was the first time Gattefossé had ventured into overseas production. This new step was very much driven by the company’s clients, who did not want manufacturing to take place on just one site.
In 2018, the decision to set up a new industrial facility in the US state of Texas was yet another step forward for the business. This move was led by Olivier Midler, then Marketing and Business Development Director. Olivier took on the role of Group CEO in 2011, with Jacques Moyrand still Chairman. When Olivier retired in 2018, he was replaced by Eduardo de Purgly.
In France, the start of the 2000s saw significant investment in the Saint-Priest site, providing the business with new high-performance research tools and equipment. In 2011, the company launched the “pôle technologique Blanche Gattefossé” (Blanche Gattefossé Formulation Biopole, see image) comprising both the cosmetic and pharmaceutical application laboratories as well as a brand-new cell biology lab. In the new lab, researchers could work on identifying properties of interest in extracts being developed, carry out in vitro and ex vivo evaluations of cosmetic active ingredients and direct clinical studies carried out by external organizations.
Pôle technologique Blanche Gattefossé Saint Priest
The opening of the new laboratory was an important step forward in the development of R&D activities at that time. Frédéric Demarne, Research Director from 2002 to 2019 and also a Doctor of Botany and Plant Genetics, was a breath of fresh air to the company in terms of innovation, sourcing and research, as well as increasing internal expertise.
In the field of pharmaceuticals, the business worked hard throughout the 2000s and 2010s to demonstrate that its lipid excipients were able to carry new medicinal molecules and improve their absorption into the body. To press on with its research work, Gattefossé increased its academic collaborations, with universities in Innsbruck (Austria), Dublin (Ireland) and Melbourne (Australia) in particular. The study of Gattefossé excipients in peptide formulations for oral administration was the subject of a number of scientific publications.
gelules phamarcieFrom a commercial perspective, the 2010s saw a rise in demand for oral pharmaceutical excipients; Labrasol® and Compritol® were both very successful. And in 2013, sales of orally administered excipients overtook figures for suppository excipients for the very first time.
In cosmetics, Gattefossé made its mark on the industry with “texture agents” and plant-based active ingredients. There was a shift in direction half-way through the 2000s when Gattefossé decided to firmly commit to the market sector focused on “naturalness”. Emulium® Delta may have made a splash in 1998 because formulations could be stabilized while retaining a high level of sensoriality, but Emulium® Kappa was a game-changer. Emulium® Kappa was created using technology that combined plant waxes with polyglycerol esters and was the first emulsifier that could be used to create completely natural cosmetics. Emulium® Mellifera, Acticire® and Definicire® were launched a few years later, and along with Emulium® Kappa, these new award-winning natural texture agents helped Gattefossé demonstrate the extent of its galenic innovation to the cosmetic industry.
The company also continued to innovate in response to client needs, and in 2018 launched Emulium® Illustro, an emulsifier derived from natural sources offering an alternative to silicone-based systems. It happened to perform extremely well in make-up and sun protection formulations.
In terms of active plant ingredients, a number of innovations were launched throughout the 2000s and 2010s: Gatuline® Expression, Gatuline® In-Tense, Gatuline® Radiance and Gatuline® Renew, amongst others. Each product had its own unique properties and its effectiveness was demonstrated through in vitro and in vivo testing. From 2013 onwards, Gattefossé R&D took advantage of a discovery by researchers at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands: Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents (NaDES). These natural solvents could replace traditional solvents (frequently rebuffed by consumers) in the manufacture of plant ingredients. In 2014, Gattefossé acquired exclusive rights to use NaDES technology in the manufacture and marketing of plant extracts for cosmetics. NaDES technology was notably used to produce two new products: Gatuline® Link N Lift, derived from horse chestnut flowers, and EnergiNius®, from Indian Ginseng. While all this was happening, a number of studies were carried out in partnership with universities and external laboratories, raising the profile of the company’s research in the field of cosmetics.
In 2017, twenty years after Jacques Moyrand took over as Chairman, Gattefossé’s turnover exceeded 100 million Euros for the first time. Almost 70% of sales took place outside France, and these were split between the pharmacy and cosmetics sectors.
The family business was proud of its financial independence and core values in a sector dominated by large groups, but now it needed to think like a large group and prepare for an increase in orders and additional regulatory requirements. The company also had to contend with the worldwide trend towards protectionism and consider broader societal and environmental concerns in its own daily activities.
Gattefossé is now proud to say it owns strong brands such as Tefose®, Labrafil®, Transcutol®, Gatuline® and Emulium®, which have all proven to be powerful company ambassadors, appreciated by clients.
Its business strategy is focused on achieving success in the long-term as researchers continue to carry out excellent work, and application tools maintain their high-level performance. With production facilities outside France and teams on every continent, Gattefossé is still innovating to push forward developments in both pharmacy and cosmetics, industries that Gattefossé has never failed to serve since the company was first created.