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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Early in the year, in the cellar of the Holthausen packing department building, Henkel began to produce adhesives for captive use: Sula (paper adhesive) Desula (board adhesive) and Buba (packet adhesive). In the first year, a total of 123 tons of adhesives were produced for the company’s own use. 1923 glue was sold to a neighboring company for the first time. From 1928 Henkel started to export adhesives, especially to its European neighbors and from 1929 also to Australia & South America.
The first Persil advertising with the “White Lady” appeared.
In 1930, Schwarzkopf started business with hair salons.
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.
From January 1, Henkel GmbH was transformed into Henkel Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien (KGaA) [Limited Corporation based on shares]. The Shareholder’s committee was set up as the decision-making body of the Henkel family.
On October 11, the company went public and preferred shares without voting rights were issued. In this context, a Henkel worldwide financial statement was published for the first time.
Henkel started entering the Eastern European market with various investments and the creation of joint ventures in countries such as Russia, Poland, Hungary and Slovenia.
In addition to that, Henkel started its first joint venture in China with Shanghai Henkel Chemicals Ltd., a production facility in Gu Lang Lu.
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.
Henkel acquired all the shares of Loctite Corporation. Loctite is next to craft and household adhesives the world's leading specialist for engineering adhesives, especially for miniaturization as Chipbonding and microelectronics.
In 2002, Loctite India Private Limited (Incorporated in 1990) was renamed as Henkel-Loctite India Private Limited.
With the integration of Loctite, Henkel achieved by far the world market leadership in adhesives and improved the sales structure in the US and worldwide. Today Loctite is the largest brand in the business unit Adhesive Technologies.
Henkel expands the business, especially in the Asia-Pacific region with various joint ventures, start-ups and acquisitions. As a joined project of Henkel (China) Investment Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Henkel Jiao Tong Management Training Center opened in Shanghai.
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.
After the Henkel Annual General Meeting on April 14, the Henkel Management AG was appointed the sole personally liable partner of Henkel KGaA. Therefore the company was renamed in Henkel AG & Co. KGaA.
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.
Henkel developed the corporate culture in order to resolve the growing internationality and diversity within the company. A clear vision and shared values should provide orientation, guidance and identification for the employees around the world. The vision of being “a global leader in brands and technologies” defines a clear ambition for every Henkel employee. And in striving to achieve this goal, everyone at Henkel is guided in their daily activities by five values: customers, people, financial performance, sustainability and family.
Henkel introduced its new Corporate Design in connection with its new claim: “Excellence is our Passion”.
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.
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.
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.
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 strengthens the position of Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business as a global leader.
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.
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.
Effective May 1, 2016, Hans Van Bylen becomes Henkel CEO, succeeding Kasper Rorsted. Hans Van Bylen served as member of the Management Board since 2005, responsible for the Beauty Care business unit.
Pascal Houdayer, member of the Management Board since March 1, 2016, succeeds Hans Van Bylen as Executive Vice President for the Beauty Care business unit as of May 1, 2016.