A human touch

October 02 2019

This year marks the 10th anniversary of amenities specialist FORMIA in its current management and structure. Julie Baxter looks back at its decade of sustainable growth

Ten years ago, as Gate Group, acquired deSter (the company he worked for), Roland Grohmann decided it was a time for a change. He was keen to move out of the corporate world and try something more entrepreneurial, something he felt was more value centered.

He wasn’t alone – Dietmar Lillig had similar thoughts and had invested in amenities design business, FORMIA. Established in Scandinavia in the late 1970s, the brand had a long history in design for travel and hospitality, and in 2002 an Asia Pacific entity was created, which Grohmann and Lillig acquired in 2009. Under this ownership, FORMIA would focus exclusively on amenity kits, cosmetics and comfort items for inflight.

The mission was to specialise in what they felt was the ‘fun part of the industry’ – working with brands to add value and innovation in the passenger experience and gifting concept.

Grohmann recalls: “Initially we focused on Asia Pacific opportunities in part because the region is at the heart of the supply chain. We had only a handful of staff but a vision grow. Soon we had business in the Middle East and Europe too and now we also have customers in North America and Latin America and are proud to be a truly global company.”

The FORMIA logo – the REN symbol – is an oriental character that means ‘human touch’ or ‘connection’ and its use reflects the openness and the people-focused priority the business aspires to.

Now with offices in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, New York, Milan and Dubai, FORMIA has over 80 staff, 40 plus airline clients and over 150 brand partners. The senior management team has over 100 years of combined experience in the sector and the employee mix includes 22 nationalities. Grohmann is proud to note that 70% of its staff are female and 40% are under 35, many joining from university and growing with the business through several promotions. The team designs 1500 amenity bags each year, with some 250 million amenities delivered within 25 million completed bags annually.

Niklas Sandor, FORMIA cmo, says: “We aim to use history to look forward not back. We constantly ask what we can do better in the future, how can we add more value, do more to support our clients and the passenger experience. We are a B2B company but understand it is important to have a strong connection to the consumer and the whole passenger journey.”