As Wax Lyrical celebrates their milestone 40th year in business we’re taking a look back at their days in fragrance gone by.
We were founded in 1980 and were then known as the Nice Things Company
We were first founded by Alan Williams in 1980 who at the time imported candles from the US and sold them from a garage in Morecambe Bay.
The Nice Things Company, as it was known at the time, later made the move to Backbarrow and eventually began candle manufacturing from Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria. The team began making taper candles using machinery which is still used by us today.
In 1990 we set up home on the doorstep to the English Lake District
By this time the company had reached £1million turnover and began exporting to Europe, as a result larger premises in Lindal-in-Furness, Cumbria, were secured and the company was renamed ‘Colony Gift Corporation Ltd.’
The move to new headquarters and factory in South Cumbria was marked by a visit and official opening by Princess Diana on the 1st October 1990.
In homage to the new company name a ‘Old Colony’ collection was launched and it’s a piece of our legacy that we continue to celebrate today with our collection of classic Colony fragrances.
In 1999 we made history
The business, still know as Colony Candles, was sold in 1999 to an American company, Blyth Inc, and it was during this time that we became one of the first companies in the UK to manufacture reed diffusers.
In 2005 tragedy struck when the company’s founder Alan Williams, his three family members and a Canadian pilot were killed in a plane crash in Tanzania while on safari.
By 2006 a new ambition was instilled
Former BP executive Mike Armstead took ownership of the business in 2006 and made a significant impact on the direction and values of the business. He turned the fortunes of the business around by increasing manufacturing output, focusing on quality British-made products, extending the range and targeting export markets, an approach which is still very much reflected in the business today.
In the years that followed our signature Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh fragrance launched, which is a best-selling festive fragrance year after year, the Colony collection was extended and in response to the success of reed diffusers our first refills launched.
By 2010 we were waxing lyrical
In 2010 the name of the company changed to Wax Lyrical and shortly after Mike Armstead was recognised for his achievements when he was named Cumbrian businessperson of the year in 2012 and in the same year Wax Lyrical was named Best Medium Sized Cumbria Business of The Year.
The Fired Earth license collection launched in 2011 and to this day is ever evolving as interior design trends and fine fragrance blends influence the range from season to season.
By 2014 more than 16 million products were being produced from our Cumbrian factory.
In 2016 we joined the Portmeirion family
In May 2016, the Portmeirion Group acquired the company, building Wax Lyrical’s strength within the British market and expanding its export reach.
Today, we’re the UK’s largest manufacturer of home fragrance, exporting to 46 countries and continuing to draw inspiration from our home in Cumbria.