The Laroona Perfume Company was established around 1898 and operated from premises in Fulham Place, off Flinders Lane, in central Melbourne.
In 1917 the company decided to relocate to Richmond, an inner suburb of Melbourne with excellent transport links and where they planned to build a new factory. In June 1918, Laroona’s Mr J H Simpson addressed a meeting of the Richmond Council. He outlined his plans for the new building on a site the company had acquired and provided samples of their products. These were predominantly perfumes and soaps but also included writing ink. The council agreed that their Works Committee would look at the application and respond shortly.
Towards the end of WW1 the Australian Government relaxed the import restrictions on perfumes and toiletry products. At the outbreak of war, 4711 cologne was the most popular perfume in Australia and being a German product it was forbidden to import it or have it for sale. When the restrictions were first brought in the government added a 50% increase to the excise on the spirit that was the carrier for perfumes. This was to compensate for the loss of import duties from imported perfumes. Mr James H Simpson, Company Secretary of Laroona, wrote a letter to The Age (Melbourne) complaining of the unfairness of easing restrictions on imports but not of the easing of the excise duties.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE AGE,
Sir, — The reversal of the Government decision to prohibit the importation of perfumery, by now allowing half of the previous year's importations to come forward is no doubt a surprise to many people; and we can only say to the unfortunate manufacturers of Australian perfumery, it has come as a bolt from the blue. The trade used no influence to bring the prohibition to pass, and when its introduction was announced we were surprised to find that our business was to be saddled with an increase of 50 per cent, on the amount of excise imposed upon spirit used for perfume, and of course we had to put up with an immense amount of work and inconvenience, as, spirit being the basis of the trade, every price had to be altered and many lines dropped or changed. However, a compensation was given, as during the term of the war the Australian manufacture would have the local market. Now the Government announces the withdrawal of the greater part of the benefit we were to receive, whilst it seems to intend to continue to impose the added burden which was placed upon us, to compensate for the expected loss of revenue. We cannot think we have heard the last word from the Government in this matter, for, if so, other trades must pray that no such back-handed favors come in their direction from the prohibition of luxuries.
LAROONA PERFUMERY PTY. LTD. - James H. Simpson, Sec.
By December 1918 plans for the new building were well advanced and the building was expected to cost in the vicinity of £5000. The building would occupy a site at the corner of Barkly Avenue and Burnley Street. It would be built of concrete 90ft x 100 ft, one storey with a basement. It was to be a modern well-appointed building with laboratory, showroom, packing and export rooms and departments for perfume, powders, soaps and even a fancy box making area. By this stage the company produced around 300 different lines in perfume, soap, talc and other toiletry articles. The directors of the company at the time were Mr J Grout and Mr J H Simpson.
The new factory was opened in 1920. An extensive report in the Melbourne Herald described the building as an attractive factory and named the architects as Messrs Gawler and Drummond of Collins Street Melbourne. By this time the war was over and the company felt that demand for their products would remain high and as their aim had always been to supply articles of a high quality believed that demand would only increase.
In 1925 the company became the Simpson Manufacturing Co. and continued to manufacture perfumes and toiletry products on the same site under the name Simpsons.
Known fragrances of this comany