Smart science to improve lives™

Our history

Our first site opened in northern England almost 100 years ago. We’re proud to still manufacture there, close to our roots. Although today, we have more than 5,500 people working at manufacturing sites and in offices in 37 countries.

Our business was founded in 1925 by an entrepreneur, Mr Crowe, and a chemist, Mr Dawe. Our name is taken from their surnames. 

From the outset, we understood the central role science plays in our everyday lives. Today, that means using our Smart science to improve lives™. We build on our heritage every day, with sustainability always central to our thinking, turning exciting and often ground-breaking ideas into practical solutions for our customers.

Originally, that meant refining wool grease from the prosperous Yorkshire wool trade into lanolin. Today, we are a global speciality chemical company creating ingredients and technologies that bring innovation, high performance and sustainability to an array of products used by industry and consumers around the world.


Our timeline

View our timeline to discover how we became the global leader in naturally resourced, speciality chemicals.

Lanolin made from sheeps wool

An amazing heritage

Lanolin had been found to be an effective rust preventative, and our first decades of business saw us working with engineering and automotive industries. 

The Second World War brought new contracts to supply items like camouflage oils, insect repellents and gun cleaning oils. As the war ended, we diversified into new areas, notably cosmetics. 

After the war, our CEO Fred Wood led company growth, taking Croda to the USA in the 1950s and establishing our office in New York. This laid the foundations for Croda Inc, which today has two manufacturing sites and teams covering North America and Canada.

The 1970s and 80s saw continuing organic growth and a series of acquisitions that saw us diversify into many new markets. By now, we were manufacturing paints, printing inks, adhesives and dyestuffs alongside chemicals, and even processing honey.

woman with good skin care products

Building a smarter business

We recognised the dangers of diversifying too much and, in the 1980s, went back what we do best: creating speciality ingredients from renewable resources.

The 1997 acquisition of Sederma brought us new capabilities in skincare active ingredients and acquiring Uniqema from ICI in 2006 established us as a global leader, strengthening manufacturing capabilities with additional sites in Europe and Asia.

In 2013 we led the successful majority shareholder joint venture bid for China-based Sipo, gaining our first manufacturing foothold in this growth market. Smaller acquisitions followed, enhancing our capabilities in industrial specialities, encapsulation and delivery, and seed enhancement. We’ve also continued to develop our sustainability and quality infrastructure, and extended our smart science with the opening of new laboratories in Asia and North America. 

Find out about the markets we operate in today
sustainable growth for croda

Sustainability driving us forward

2019 and 2020 brought two significant acquisitions that added new expertise to our Health Care business: Biosector and Avanti Polar Lipids. These strengthened our pharmaceutical capabilities including extensive knowledge of vaccine adjuvants and excipients. In 2020 we also expanded into a new market flavours and fragrance, as we made our biggest acquisition yet: Iberchem.

2020 was a milestone year for Croda as we launched our Purpose: Smart science to improve lives™. Living this includes a Commitment to become the most sustainable supplier of innovative ingredients, providing solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges in the coming decades through our commitment to be Climate, Land and People Positive by 2030. 
Find out about our sustainability Commitment