Partners & Sponsors
Shortly after Weleda was first founded in Switzerland in 1921, The British Weleda Co. Ltd (as it was then known) was established in 1925 in London. Apart from the bespoke pharmaceuticals traditionally made up for customers in the pharmacy to prescription, Weleda’s original range of ‘ready-made’ bodycare products included a hair oil, hair tonic, toothpaste, mouthwash, cold cream moisturiser, cleansing milk and a cream for chilblains.
In the years leading up to the second World War, Weleda had been mainly importing products and raw materials such as medicinal tinctures produced by the parent business in Switzerland. But the outbreak of war made importing near impossible, so it became necessary to switch production to this country.
Communication during the war years with Weleda’s headquarters in Switzerland was also increasingly difficult, resulting in some discrepancies in product formulation as the range expanded, such as the differences between the original Arnica Massage Oil and the British Arnica Massage Balm for example. Both hugely popular products today, they continue to co-exist: one as a non-medicinal bodycare product and the other as a licensed medicinal product with a high level of plant actives, favoured by remedial massage therapists.
In 1939 the business evacuated to an old priory in Worcestershire with its own organic gardens, where Weleda remained for the duration of the war. After the war ended, Weleda was able to reopen a London shop to provide prescription medicines needed rapidly for patients. In 1952 the shop moved to larger premises just off London’s Baker Street, which remained until 1960.
From plant to product...
In 1957 a move from Worcestershire to East Sussex enabled Weleda to start growing more medicinal herbs to expand its UK manufacturing capability. In 1973 the business became Weleda (UK) Ltd when Britain joined the European Common Market. At this time medicines legislation became increasingly stringent and there was clearer distinction between non-medicinal cosmetic products and medicinal products, with strict medicines licensing requirements.
Weleda moved from Sussex to Derbyshire in 1978, to allow for further expansion of both the manufacturing business and the medicinal herb gardens. The original half-acre growing site has expanded to become 13 acres of Demeter-certified medicinal herb gardens, where Weleda grows over 50 species which make a very short journey to the manufacturing site to be used at their freshest for Weleda’s potent plant extracts.
In 1978 Weleda’s top selling product in the UK was Arnica Massage Balm. Interestingly it remains Weleda’s best-selling medicinal product and has fathered an entire family of arnica products. Today Arnica is an ingredient that features in over 15 Weleda lines.