Carvansons | A History in Fragrance

Fragrance making

Carvansons was founded in 1941, a collaboration between Frank Carter and Charles Evans, along with their respective sons – hence the name of the company Car–Van-Sons. Since then the company has grown into an international supplier of bulk fragrance compounds, fragrance oils and perfumes. The original factory started out in Eccles, Greater Manchester at an old bleach works. To meet the growing needs of the business, the company relocated in the early 1950s to Hollins in Bury.

Frank had a background in chemistry and had previously worked at Prices Candle Company and PZ Cussons. In 1942 Frank became the sole owner of Carvansons.


A Family in Fragrance

Frank was a resourceful character. During the war years it was difficult to obtain many of the aromatic materials required to create fragrances, so, to ensure a ready supply, he set about manufacturing amyl salicylate, eugenol, musk xylol and musk ambrette himself.

One project that wasn’t quite such a success was his foray into growing his own supply of lavender. Land was bought in the Cheddar Valley, Somerset; an area renowned for its ability to produce exceptional-quality lavender. Frank returned to check the growth process during the first season, only to find that the local wild rabbit population had eaten all the young plants.

John Whowell

John Whowell meeting Historian, Dan Snow

The company also had a small unit in Somerset extracting tree moss and gum olibanum (frankincense). Olibanum resin was soaked in ethanol; the alcohol would then evaporate leaving the pure fragrance. One of the original copper stills is still on display in the head office.

In 1968 Frank was joined by his son-in-law John Whowell. This arrangement worked well and at this point the company operated with just 5 employees and was happy to rely on UK sales alone.

John’s son Luke began working for the company at a very early age. Before he left school, he was already working in the factory during summer holidays and in essence learning the basics from the ground up, which would stand him in good stead for his future role within the company.

Carvansons International Focus

It was around this time, in the 1980’s that export sales increased as Luke, the third generation, began to focus further afield on overseas markets. The first of these ventures was Thailand, followed in quick succession by Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Middle Eastern countries, with the expansion to surrounding areas year on year. Agents with specific local knowledge provide insight into local customs and trends that enable them to continue overseas success.

We now have representation in the following countries. To contact our international teams and representatives, click here.

Carvansons logo

  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Ethiopia
  • Cameroon
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • United Arab Emirates/Middle East
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • Poland
  • Bulgaria

The Future for Carvansons

Carvansons UK

Carvansons now operates with sites across the world and has maintained its heritage while focusing on the future. We have heavily invested in analytical and quality-control instrumentation to expand and develop their services and product offerings. In 2022, Carvansons moved from the site in Bury to a brand-new purpose-built site in Haslingden, Lancashire, enabling the company to grow once again.

The impressive site is an extensive 62,000 square foot building and boasts state-of-the-art perfumery laboratories, bright, modern office and meeting rooms and customer perfume sampling and smelling zones. The new site also includes a 50,000 square foot perfume manufacturing and warehousing facility. This move has enabled us to expand production capacity, whilst enabling the business to continue to grow and develop.

For more information about Carvansons and how we create our fragrances, please contact us.