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Henkel’s history

Around 140 years of brand success

At the beginning of the company's history in 1876, we meet a 28-year-old merchant who was interested in science – Fritz Henkel. On September 26, 1876 he and two partners founded the company Henkel & Cie in Aachen and marketed his first product, a universal detergent based on silicate.

During the following years, this German family of entrepreneurs and thousands of their employees built Henkel into a global company.

Fritz Henkel founded the laundry detergent company Henkel

On September 26 1876, the 28-year-old Fritz Henkel and his two partners founded the company Henkel & Cie in Aachen. The company’s product was a laundry detergent based on sodium silicate, which they named Universal-Waschmittel. Contrary to all similar products, which at that time were sold loose, this heavy-duty detergent was marketed in handy packets.

First success with a branded product: Henkel’s Bleich-Soda (bleaching soda)

In 1878, Henkel’s first branded product was launched. The result of Fritz Henkel’s own research, the bleaching soda, was made from readily soluble sodium silicate and calcined (water-free) soda. In the same year, Henkel also began exporting products abroad: 200 boxes of Henkel’s Bleich-Soda and 200 pounds of Universal-Waschmittel to Switzerland.

Relocation to Düsseldorf

Building on the success of his first branded product — Henkel’s Bleich-Soda (bleaching soda) — Fritz Henkel relocated his company to Düsseldorf in 1878. Initially, he rented a factory in the Flingern district, then went on to build his own factory in Düsseldorf-Oberbilk in 1880. In 1899, Fritz Henkel bought a piece of land in Holthausen, then a suburb of Düsseldorf. In the same year, he began building a bleaching soda factory, a sodium silicate factory, a boiler house with workshops, and an office building. In March 1900, Henkel was ready to start up production at the new site.

Foundation of Schwarzkopf

In 1898, the state-approved chemist Hans Schwarzkopf took over a dye, drug and perfumery business in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Schwarzkopf has been part of Henkel since its acquisition in 1995. Since 1898, the name Schwarzkopf has been synonymous with hair competence, and values such as modernity, high quality and innovative strength. This makes Schwarzkopf an ideal umbrella for a clearly differentiated brands portfolio serving both our consumer segment and our international hair salon business, Schwarzkopf Professional.

Persil – First self-acting laundry detergent

In 1907, Persil was launched as the world’s first self-acting laundry detergent, which has been the cornerstone for Henkel’s growth since then. The detergent, which cleans and bleaches laundry without chlorine, not only eliminated the physically strenuous task of scrubbing and washing by hand, which caused the fabrics to wear, but also improved household hygiene. These were directly tangible contributions that Henkel made to social progress. Today, Persil is Germany’s No. 1 laundry detergent and one of the top brands in the Laundry & Home Care business.

First Henkel adhesive

In 1923, labeling of some of Henkel's consumer products was threatened due to an interruption in the supply of glue. This is why Henkel started the production of its own adhesives.

On June 26, a glue was sold to a neighboring company for the first time. Henkel ambitiously decided to conquer the interior decorating and wallcoverings markets, where Sichel was the market leader, in addition to the packaging industry.

Poly Color hair colorant

The image above shows a Poly Color package from 1950. TheraChemie began marketing these liquid hair colorants in 1947. Henkel entered the cosmetics business through the acquisition of TheraChemie in 1950.

First Loctite adhesive

In 1956, Professor Vernon Krieble presented his adhesive “Loctite, the liquid locknut.” Krieble promised that this adhesive would solve the problem of loose nuts and bolts in machinery. Together with his neighbor Paul G. Haviland, he founded the American Sealants Company in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. In 1963, the company was renamed Loctite Corporation.

In 1985, Henkel purchased just over 25 percent of Loctite’s ordinary stock from the Krieble family. This participation was expanded in several steps to 35 percent by 1996. Henkel acquired Loctite entirely in 1997. Today, Loctite is the biggest brand in the Adhesive Technologies business.

Acquisition of Schwarzkopf

In July 1995, Henkel acquired Schwarzkopf, which has been part of the company since then. With the acquisition, Henkel was able to double the sales of its Beauty Care business unit. Schwarzkopf is now one of the leading hair cosmetics brands in the world and is the largest brand in the Henkel portfolio.

Acquisition of Loctite

Henkel acquired Loctite entirely in 1997. In 1985, Henkel had already purchased just over 25 percent of Loctite’s ordinary stock from the Krieble family. This participation was expanded in several steps to 35 percent by 1996. Today, Loctite is the biggest brand in the Adhesive Technologies business unit.

Acquisition of The Dial Corporation

Henkel purchased the U.S.-based company The Dial Corporation, a manufacturer of laundry detergents, household cleaners and body care products. The product portfolio includes bar soaps, liquid soaps and shower gels in the body care business, as well as laundry detergents and air fresheners.

Acquisition of National Starch’s Adhesives and Electronic Materials businesses

In 2008, Henkel took over from Akzo Nobel the Adhesives and Electronic Materials businesses previously owned by National Starch. This made Adhesive Technologies the business unit with the largest share of Henkel’s sales. In the Adhesive Technologies business unit, the acquisition primarily strengthened the areas of packaging and wood adhesives, and electronics.

Presentation of new Henkel strategy and sustainability strategy

Henkel presented its new strategy and financial targets for the period up to 2016. The strategy centers around the strategic priorities of outperform, globalize, simplify, and inspire.

At the same time, the company published its new Sustainability Strategy 2030. At the core of this is the goal of achieving more with less and tripling its efficiency. The new sustainability strategy applies to all business sectors and the entire value chain.

Henkel family extended share-pooling agreement

At the beginning of 2014, the Henkel family extended its share-pooling agreement. The agreement was concluded for an indefinite term and can now first be terminated as of December 31, 2033.

Henkel announces acquisitions

In June 2014, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA signed an agreement with funds advised by BC Partners to acquire all shares in the Spotless Group SAS, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. The Spotless Group operates in the categories of laundry aid, insect control and household care and holds leading market positions in established European markets such as France, Italy, Spain and the UK.


Henkel also signed an agreement with TSG Consumer Partners, to acquire the three US Hair Professional companies SexyHair, Alterna and Kenra. The acquisition will position Henkel as one of the leading companies in the world’s single biggest Hair Professional market.


In September 2014, Henkel also signed an agreement to acquire The Bergquist Company, a privately-held leading supplier of thermal-management solutions for the electronics industry worldwide. The acquisition will strengthen the position of Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business as a global leader.


Opening of largest automated storage facility

At the corporate headquarters in Düsseldorf, Henkel opened its largest automated storage facility. Built on an area the size of two football fields, its ten rack levels offer storage capacity for more than 25 million packs of laundry and home care products.


New global supply chain organization

In line with the implementation of its Strategy 2016, Henkel continued to standardize production and logistics activities across all business units, and consolidated them with its purchasing operations into a global supply chain organization. The new organization started operations in early November 2014.

Persil launched in the U.S.

Henkel’s flagship brand, Persil, was successfully launched in the U.S. in 2015. The brand was introduced under the name Persil ProClean.