Henkel’s history

More than 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.

Merger of Laundry & Home Care and Beauty Care into new Consumer Brands business unit

Henkel is merging its business units Laundry & Home Care and Beauty Care into one business unit: Consumer Brands. With the new business unit, Henkel builds one multi-category platform for growth, combining its consumer brands and businesses under one roof, including many iconic brands such as Persil and Schwarzkopf, also comprising the hair professional business. Wolfgang König, previously Executive Vice President for Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care on the Management Board, assumes responsibility for Consumer Brands.

100 Years of Adhesive Technologies

Henkel’s involvement in the adhesives industry was a coincidence which turned out to be a great fortune: Faced with a supply shortage of glue in 1922, Henkel began producing packaging adhesives for its own use. By 1923, Henkel began to market its adhesives and has since become the world's leading manufacturer of adhesive technologies for various products and industrial applications.

175th anniversary of Fritz Henkel

With his pioneering spirit, Fritz Henkel (1848-1930) laid the foundation for the success of our company. He was guided by his responsibility for the company, his employees, society and the environment. His role model continues to inspire us today to continue Henkel’s successful history. In a virtual exhibition, we accompany Fritz Henkel through his life: from his childhood, through his first experiences as a founder, to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Further information can be found here https://www.fritz-henkel.com

25th anniversary of “Make an Impact on Tomorrow”

Henkel's volunteering initiative “Make an Impact on Tomorrow” (MIT) has the aim to promote the voluntary engagement of employees and retirees in social projects. Over 17,300 projects in more than 100 countries around the world have already been supported. Launched in 1998, the initiative made Henkel one of the first German companies to make voluntary social engagement a key element of its sustainability activities. Henkel's support includes financial and in-kind donations as well as the opportunity to take paid time off to dedicate to a social project.

Acquisition of Shiseido's hair salon business in Asia-Pacific

Henkel has signed an agreement to acquire the Asia-Pacific hair salon business of Shiseido. Included in the acquisition are leading hair salon brands such as Sublimic and Primience, which are marketed under the licensed umbrella brand Shiseido Professional.

Henkel's 2030+ Sustainability Ambition Framework

Henkel has further developed its sustainability strategy: this resulted in a new 2030+ Sustainability Ambition Framework, which also includes new, additional long-term ambitions that will help transform the economy and society toward sustainability.

Global Innovation Center for Adhesive Technologies

Henkel has invested more than 130 million euros to erect a state-of-the-art building at the company’s headquarters in Düsseldorf. The facility allows more than 350 Henkel experts to develop new technologies and applications for a variety of industries. The building also serves as a global customer center, where Henkel presents new solutions for adhesives, sealants and functional coatings.

Carsten Knobel new CEO and Marco Swoboda new CFO of Henkel

As of January 1, 2020, Carsten Knobel (50) is the company’s new CEO. He succeeds Hans Van Bylen, who is leaving the company after around 35 years with the company. Also effective January 1, Marco Swoboda (48) succeeds Carsten Knobel as Henkel's new Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Sustainable finance

Henkel is the world’s first company to issue a Plastic Waste Reduction Bond. The proceeds from this bond, which was issued in 2020, will be invested in projects for reducing plastic waste. The bon has a total volume of around 100 million euros and a maturity of five years.

Love Nature: the new clean

The plant-based detergent, dishwashing and cleaning products of our new brand Love Nature contribute toward more sustainability. They bear the EU Ecolabel, in most cases are certified with the ECARF seal as skin- and allergy-friendly, and contain only hypoallergenic fragrances. All Love Nature products are mare without ingredients of animal origin.

Green electricity for all Henkel production sites in the USA

Henkel has signed a large-scale Virtual Power Purchase Agreement relating to a new wind farm in Bee County, Texas, USA. The agreed capacity equals 100 percent of the electricity demand of Henkel’s operations in the USA, which comprise more than 30 production sites across the country.

Management Board Changes at Henkel

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.

Acquisition of The Sun Products Corporation

Effective September 1, 2016 Henkel acquired the US laundry and home care company The Sun Products Corporation. The acquisition is a step-change for the business and includes leading laundry care brands such as all and Sun as well as Snuggle fabric conditioner. Sun Products serves as a manufacturer and marketing partner to many North American leading retailers, with a store brand portfolio of laundry and dish care products.

Henkel presents new strategic priorities and financial ambition

On November 17, Henkel presented its new strategic priorities and financial ambition, which will shape Henkel until 2020 and beyond – summarized as “Henkel 2020+”. Based on its strong foundation, Henkel aims to generate continued profitable growth by focusing on four strategic priorities: Driving growth, accelerating digitalization, increasing agility, and funding growth.

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.

Henkel Family Extend Share-Pooling Agreement

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

Henkel Announces New 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; the group also hold leading positions in established European markets such as France, Italy, Spain, and the UK.


Henkel also signed an agreement with TSG Consumer Partners, to acquire three US Professional Hair Care Products companies: SexyHair, Alterna, and Kenra. The acquisitions positioned Henkel as one of the leading companies in the world’s Professional Hair Care Products market.


In September 2014, Henkel signed an agreement to acquire The Bergquist Company, a privately-held leading supplier of thermal-management solutions for the electronics industry worldwide. The acquisition strengthened 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.

Presentation of Henkel strategy and sustainability strategy

Henkel presented its 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 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.


Forscherwelt launched

Henkel launched the “Forscherwelt,” an educational initiative for children to foster interest in research and science.

Find out more on the Forscherwelt website

Further development of corporate culture

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.

Company was renamed in Henkel AG & Co. KGaA

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.

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.

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 Loctite

In 1997, Henkel acquired all the shares of the Loctite Corporation. Loctite is, next to craft and household adhesives, the world’s leading specialist for engineering adhesives, especially for miniaturization like Chip-bonding and microelectronics.

In 2002, Loctite India Private Limited (Incorporated in 1990) was renamed 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 Adhesive Technologies business unit.

Expansion of Business in the Asia-Pacific

Henkel expanded the business, especially in the Asia-Pacific region with various joint ventures, stat-ups, and acquisitions. As a joint project of Henkel (China) Investment Co. Ltd. And Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Henkel Jiao Tong Management Training Center opened in Shanghai.

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.

Entering new markets

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.

First Public Annual General Meeting

In 1986, the first public Annual General Meeting of the Henkel KGaA at the Düsseldorf City Hall took place. The first Information for our Shareholders was also published.

Henkel Goes Public

On October 11, the company went public in the stock market and preferred shares without voting rights were issued. This was Henkel’s first worldwide financial statement.

Henkel KGaA

On January 1, 1975, Henkel GmbH changed into Henkel Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien (KGaA) – a limited corporation based on shares. The Shareholders’ Committee was set up as the decision-making body for the Henkel family.

Introduction of Henkel oval

The “Henkel Lion” disappeared from packaging, being replaced by the Henkel oval.

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.

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.

Business with hair salons

In 1930, Schwarzkopf started business with hair salons.

The First Henkel Adhesive

Early in 1922, in the cellar of the Holthausen packing department building, Henkel began to produce ready-to-use adhesives: 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 personal use. In 1923, glue was sold to a neighboring company for the first time. From 1928, Henkel started to export adhesives, to its European neighbors and in 1929 expanded its reach to Australia and South America.

The First Appearance of the “White Lady”

The “White Lady,” who was designed and brought to life by Berliner artist Kurt Heiligenstaedt, appeared for the first time in 1922 and has been a part of Persil’s history ever since.

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.

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.

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.

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.