Luminex Home Décor and Fragrance

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Candle-lite and PartyLite merge under the Luminex Home Décor and Fragrance name to bring unique products to a broader audience.

By Stephanie Crets

Understanding consumers’ needs and developing products that appeal to them is the focus of Luminex Home Décor and Fragrance Co. The company is well positioned to provide high-quality home fragrance and home décor products from its one-million-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility, along with providing a high level of service to its customers.

Luminex HDF is a new company, representing the unification of two organizations with long-standing histories in the industry: Candle-lite Company and PartyLite. Candle-lite, which celebrated its 175th anniversary last year, is America’s oldest candle manufacturer and reaches more consumers through mass-market retailers than any other manufacturer. PartyLite, on the other hand, is a direct-to-consumer sales company with more than 45,000 sales consultants in 19 countries. Where pricing is concerned, Candle-lite competes primarily in the value segment, while PartyLite is tailored to the premium market.

What brought these two companies together was the vision set out by the executive team and private equity partners of both businesses. Candle-lite was acquired by the Centre Lane Partners back in January 2014, while the Carlyle Group acquired PartyLite in October 2015. What they recognized was a great opportunity to create operational synergies and gain significant benefits from bringing these two companies together, with the merger of Candle-lite and PartyLite under the umbrella of Luminex HDF, completed in May 2016.

“One of the primary benefits in bringing these two home fragrances leaders together was the fact they are quite complementary to each other in the way they reach consumers,” CEO Calvin Johnston says. “While we are able to create tremendous synergies in leveraging a shared service model on the back-end through integrating finance, IT, manufacturing, distribution and product development, we can now engage and appeal to a broader consumer base then before. Not only do we now reach more consumers through very different channels of distribution, we can do it on a global scale.

“Candle-lite has been primarily a North American retail focused business while Partylite’s largest market is in Europe,” he continues. “Going forward, we will be able to leverage our infrastructure to expand both businesses into new markets. Through the integration of the companies, we can redeploy capital and operating budgets into product development, operational efficiencies and people to help us grow.”

Company Integration

Thanks to the merger, Luminex HDF is able to make significant investments in its main manufacturing and distribution center. The company is investing more than $15 million in integration capabilities alone, which include overall process improvement, equipment automation and new IT systems.

“In any merger, you’re bringing together distinct organizations that have operated independently and the key is getting them to work together - quickly,” Johnston explains. “Because we’ve created a shared service model, people are working together across the business units from product development, forecasting and planning, manufacturing, finance and more. The challenge comes when you’re melding those companies together through processes and new reporting relationships while creating the right balance so you can still maintain the distinct nature of each company.”

Both Candle-lite and PartyLite have long-standing cultures embedded within each company. A challenge for Luminex HDF’s executive team is to create a common bond under this new company umbrella while not taking away the unique strengths of each company. “That is a balancing act we work at every day to achieve,” Johnston says. “While we’re still in our infancy in terms of working together, a key, central question is: How do we keep the best of both cultures but bind people together under Luminex?”

While most employees have a long tenure and were at first apprehensive of the merger, they quickly embraced the idea of working together. Johnston says he expected it to take at least a year to bridge the two companies, but that has already been accomplished in the first 5 months. “It came down to how quickly people supported the strategy, understood what was asked of them and made tremendous sacrifices with workload and commitments to bringing the organizations together,” he says. “That speaks highly of the people we have, the quality of their work in the way they’ve handled the changes and how quickly they’ve come together.”

New Products

Merging the two companies also meant keeping a unique and distinctive brand and product portfolio for both Candle-lite and PartyLite. This will help strengthen the financial health and performance of the company by extending the reach of the company to even more consumers.

Candle-lite recently introduced a new line of Scent Bursts and Scent Sticks available at food and drug retailers and Walmart. These natural paper-based products are infused with essential oils and other pure fragrances and are easy to use and environmentally friendly. Scent Sticks can fragrance any room for 30-plus days with continual use. Scent Bursts, a fragranced paper alternative to wax melts, lasts two-times longer and offers an immediate fragrance experience with no mess – unlike melted wax.

“The initial consumer take on the new products has been really strong,” Johnston notes. “For Candle-lite, it’s about launching the brand into new product categories. For PartyLite, it’s about creating both new products and a new party concept that’s fun and interactive that guests can enjoy.”

With PartyLite, the company recently launched a new line of three-wick candles with a more fashionable design and higher-quality fragrance. Additionally, PartyLite has launched a new party concept called Find Your Signature. Guests at a party are able to mix and match fragrances – whether a fresh, fruit, floral, gourmand or exotic fragrance – in a fun, interactive way to find their own personal signature fragrance to enhance their home.

Since launching this concept, PartyLite has seen a significant growth in the number of people hosting and attending the Find Your Signature parties. This in turn is leading to more guests wanting to either host their own party or to become PartyLite consultants.

“I really believe Luminex can be the world’s leading home décor and fragrance company,” Johnston says. “I think we’re creating a strong foundation and platform that we can build upon. We have tremendous support from our shareholders who share that passion and vision of creating a leading company on a global basis. The home décor and fragrance industry has gone through consolidation over the last few years. Once we complete the integration of the companies over the next few months, we will look at new opportunities to leverage our operating base and consider acquisitions and expansion into new markets. Our future is really bright in terms of what we achieve under Luminex.

“What we’ve done is extremely unique,” he adds. “We’re breaking new ground on how to operate these two distinctly different businesses in a way that’s not been done before. It’s quite an exciting for the company and our employees.”

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