Founded in 1925 by an entrepreneur, Mr Crowe, and a chemist, Mr Dawe, from the beginning we have understood the growing part that science plays in everyday life. With a Purpose to use our Smart science to improve lives™, we have continually built on our heritage with sustainability central to our thinking, turning exciting, often ground-breaking ideas into practical solutions that our customers use to enhance their products.

Our first manufacturing site was opened in the North of England in 1925. We still operate there today, although now our 5,000+ employees work across manufacturing sites and in offices in over 38 countries.

Originally, we refined wool grease from the growing Yorkshire wool trade into lanolin. From this we have become a global speciality chemical company creating ingredients and technologies that deliver performance benefits to everyday products, used by industry and consumers across the world.

The Early Years

Lanolin was shown as an effective rust preventative, and our first decades of trading were dominated by markets in the engineering and automotive industries. World War Two brought contracts to supply items such as camouflage oils, insect repellents and gun cleaning oils, and as the war ended, we diversified into new areas, most notably cosmetics. Today, we continue to seek out changing market requirements and create products that anticipate these new needs.

Post-war growth was led by our CEO Fred Wood, who took Croda to the USA in the 1950’s, establishing a sales office in New York. This laid the foundations for Croda Inc, which now has two manufacturing sites and sales teams covering all of North America and Canada.

The 1970s and 1980s saw continuing organic growth and a series of acquisitions saw us diversifying into many new markets. We were manufacturing chemicals as well as, paints, printing inks, adhesives, dyestuffs and processing honey.

The Future

We recognised the dangers of diversifying and in the 1980s we 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 the acquisition of Uniqema from ICI in 2006 firmly established us as a global leader. Through the Uniqema acquisition, our manufacturing capabilities were strengthened especially with additional sites across Europe and Asia.

The 2011 creation of our Technologies Investment Group showed our continued commitment to innovation, looking specifically at new technology capture. 2013 saw the group lead the successful majority shareholder joint venture bid for Chinese based Sipo, marking our first manufacturing site in this large growth market.

The years that followed saw a number of smaller acquisitions, enhancing our capabilities in a range of specialities, including oil gelling polymers, speciality additives for oilfield chemicals, encapsulation and delivery and seed enhancement. As well as these acquisitions, we continued to develop our sustainability and quality credentials, with manufacturing sites in Asia and Latin America gaining EEFCi (European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients) accreditation. We also continued to further our smart science with the opening of new laboratories across Asia and North America. 

2019 and 2020 saw us make two significant acquisitions to bring new expertise to our Health Care sector, Biosector and Avanti Polar Lipids. Both acquisitions strengthened our pharmaceutical capabilities bringing with them extensive knowledge of vaccine adjuvants and excipients. During 2020 we also expand into a new market: flavours and fragrance, with the largest acquisition in our history, Iberchem.

2020 was an exciting year for the Group as we launched our Purpose, Smart science to improve lives™. Part of living our Purpose includes our new sustainability Commitment: we will 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.


For us, innovation and sustainability will always go together, more detail about our key innovations and sustainability milestones can be seen in our timeline.