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The Candle Brand

Burn baby burn

As Melanie Stack takes over the reigns as Yankee Candle’s President and General Manager for Europe, Gift Focus finds out about her career, the company and her plans for the fragrance brand

When did Yankee Candle begin?
The Yankee Candle story began in 1969 when a young 17 year-old high school student named Mike Kittredge realised he didn't have enough money to buy a gift for his mother. Ingenuity led to Mike melting is wax crayons to create a candle. Before Mike could give the present to his mother, a neighbour saw the candle and persuaded him to sell it to her. With the money, the entrepreneur purchased the materials to make two more candles - one for his mother and one to sell. This was how Yankee Candle was born.

What's your career background?
So far I've had a varied and insightful 30-year career working on other well-known brands consumers love. Prior to moving to Yankee Candle, I spent 10 years as President, International and General Manager UK for Weight Watchers. Before that I held a number of senior positions as well as managing brands and business units at Sara Lee Corp, Fisher Price Inc, Mattel and Hasbro Inc. - famous for Barbie, Disney toys, Hot Wheels, CBeebies, Action Man and Monopoly.

What made you decide to work for Yankee Candle?
Working with leading brands that have a special connection with the consumer has always been a strong passion of mine, and the European market is home to some of the world's best. Moving to Yankee Candle was a natural progression, giving me the opportunity to work with the world's best-loved candle. Since its launch in the UK, we've seen the Yankee Candle brand go from strength to strength, so it's great to now be part of this thriving brand which already enjoys a huge fan base and yet has so much more potential.

How will you use your skills and experience to help the company?
My international experience and many years spent building brands across international markets with both similar and differing needs is definitely going to help! We have a strong team in place at Yankee Candle and by working together we can continue to lead the way by bringing constant innovation to our consumers and new approaches to benefit our customers and help them build their home fragrance businesses.

What has the brand got planned for 2015?
We at Yankee Candle are really excited to be launching innovative new fragrance collections for spring/summer 2015. For spring, the range will refresh and indulge consumers with the new Pure Essence collection. Taking inspiration from some of nature's finest elements, the luxurious new scents of Aloe Water, Shea Butter and Cassis will awaken, relax and stimulate the senses.

For summer, the Café Culture collection embraces relaxation and rich aromas found within a traditional European café ambience. Reminiscent of life's luxuries, the new scents of Pain au Raisin, Tarte Tatin and Cappuccino Truffle create a decadent trio to tempt and entice consumers.

Both seasons will welcome new accessories and also a fantastic selection of gift sets for consumer gifting occasions in the first half of the year. Particularly exciting is a new collection of gifts with keepsake packaging; perfect for the Yankee Candle fan looking for collectables as well as a way to entice new customers to the brand.

What trends do you predict for 2015 in the fragrance sector?
Yankee Candle invests into researching the top trends for forthcoming seasons and all of the fragrances we're launching next spring and summer have been created specifically for the international market. This is how Yankee Candle can be confident that Pure Essence and Café Culture will satisfy consumer's needs.

What trade shows do Yankee Candle exhibit at and why?
We're proud to have a significant presence at key European trade shows in both spring and autumn. In the UK, Spring Fair, Birmingham in January and Home & Gift, Harrogate in September, are integral to the brand and product communication with Yankee Candle customers. In France, we exhibit at Maison & Objet in September, in Germany at Tendence in September and Ambiente in February, and in Italy HOMI MILANO also in September. The opportunities these shows present are invaluable in providing a platform to directly launch new collections and innovations to each market and to spend time with key customers.

Are there any changes you'd like to make or products you wish to see in the brand's portfolio?
There will always be new product developments in the pipeline and with the international home fragrance market growing, Yankee Candle is looking forward to launching some exciting innovations in the near future. Constantly bringing new fragrances and concepts to the classic range, developing our flameless offering and new accessory design is key to our future success.

How do you see the business developing in the future?
We see significant growth opportunities both in our home and European markets as we continue to innovate and build the range and expand our home fragrance offering to continually inspire our consumers. We're seeing brand loyalty expand as we bring new consumers to the brand with fresh designs while staying focused on innovation.

For further information about the company, T: +4 (0)117 316 1200 or visit www.yankeecandle.co.uk