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Henkel AG & Company, KGaA
Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien with Aktiengesellschaft as partner with unlimited liability
Traded as FWBHEN, HEN3
Industry Chemicals
Founded 1876; 142 years ago (1876)
Headquarters Düsseldorf, Germany
Key people
Hans Van Bylen (CEO and Chairman of the executive board), Simone Bagel-Trah (Chairwoman of the Shareholders’ Committee & Supervisory Board)
Products laundry and cleaning products, beauty care, adhesives and sealants
Revenue 18.714 billion(2016)[1]
€2.053 billion (2016)[1]
Profit €2.775 billion (2016)[1]
Total assets $24.71 billion (2016)[2]
Number of employees
51,350 (average, 2016)[1]
Subsidiaries Henkel North American Consumer Goods
The Sun Products Corporation
Website www.henkel.com

Henkel AG & Company, KGaA, is a German chemical and consumer goods company headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany. It is a multinational company active both in the consumer and industrial sector. Founded in 1876, the DAX 30 company is organized into three globally operating business units (laundry & home care, beauty care, adhesive technologies) and is known for brands such as Loctite, Persil, and Fa amongst others.

In the fiscal year 2016, Henkel reported sales of 18.7 billion euros and an operating profit of 3.172 billion euros. More than 80 percent of its 51,350 employees work outside of Germany.[1]


The company was founded in 1876 in Aachen as Henkel & Cie[3] by Fritz Henkel (a 28-year-old merchant who was interested in science) and two more partners. They marketed his first product, "Universalwaschmittel", a universal detergent based on silicate.

In 1878, to take advantage of the better transport links and sales opportunities, Henkel relocated his company to Düsseldorf on the Rhine (its present site). Düsseldorf was the gateway to the Ruhr region, which became the most important industrial area of the German Empire from the 19th century onward. That year, the first German brand-name detergent appeared: Henkel's Bleich-Soda [Bleaching Soda], an affordably-priced product supplied in sturdy paper bags. Made from water-glass and soda, it was the result of Fritz Henkel's own research. The soda was obtained from Matthes & Weber in Duisburg (Henkel bought this company in 1917 and sold it in 1994).

In 1879, Fritz Henkel was entered as the sole owner in the register of companies. Sales of Henkel's Bleaching Soda increased so rapidly that within just one year the rented factory on the Schützenstraße in Düsseldorf was unable to meet the demand. Fritz Henkel decided to build his own factory with a railway link.

In 1883, to improve liquidity and make better use of the company's travelling sales staff, Fritz Henkel decided to sell merchandise in addition to his detergents. Sales started in 1884. The range included the colorant ultramarine [laundry bluing agent], gloss starch, a liquid cleaning agent, a pomade for cleaning, beef extract, and a hair pomade. Very soon Henkel developed its international presence—in 1886, Henkel opened its first international sales office in Austria. Carl Pathe had gone to Vienna as a representative the year before. In 1893, Henkel established its first business links with England and Italy.

Henkel mural in Berlin, 1951

In 1903, Schwarzkopf founded by Hans Schwarzkopf (1874–1921) launched a powder shampoo. Persil came in 1907 as the first “self-acting laundry detergent”.

Henkel has been a family-run business since the beginning. In 1893, Fritz Henkel, Jr. (1875–1930) joined the firm as an apprentice. After receiving commercial training he became his father's right-hand man in commercial matters. He put Henkel's brand-name product business on a sound footing, developed its already successful advertising still further and was responsible for the company's field service. On 25 July 1904, he became a partner in Henkel, which was transformed into a general commercial partnership. By this time, 110 people were employed at the Holthausen site. On 25 April 1905, Dr. Hugo Henkel (1881–1952), the youngest son of Fritz Henkel, Sr., joined the company as a chemist. He was in charge of Chemical Products and Technology. Over the years, he laid the foundations of systematic research and introduced advanced technologies and new raw materials. In 1908, he became a personally liable partner in the company.

In 1912, total production in Düsseldorf-Holthausen rose to 49,890 tons. At 19,750 tons, Persil laundry detergent accounted for 40 percent of this, just five years after its market launch. The number of employees increased by 89 relative to the previous year, resulting in a total workforce of 1,024. Around half were female. A first-aid center was set up in the plant and a full-time nurse was employed. In the previous year Henkel had installed ball fields and play areas to encourage exercise during break times. Female employees could attend the plant's own housekeeping school during the lunch break.

On 11 January 1923, troops from France and Belgium occupied the Rhineland. The occupation made delivery of adhesives from suppliers used for the packaging of Persil unreliable. The disruption caused Henkel to internally manufacture adhesives for its own needs. Henkel found there was a demand for adhesives on the market, and on 22 June 1923, the first adhesive shipment left the plant.[4]

During World War II, foreign civilian slavery workers and prisoners of war were working for the company. Henkel was part of a large-scale restitution settlement.

Henkel U.S. headquarters Scottsdale, Arizona

On 16 April 1945, American troops occupied Henkel's Düsseldorf site. On 5 June, the British military command in Düsseldorf took over from the Americans. From 20 July, the British military government gradually granted permission for the production of adhesives, P3 and water-glass by Henkel, and for soaps and detergents as well as shoe polish by Thompson. In February 1946, Matthes & Weber in Duisburg was given permission to process available raw materials into soda. On 20 September 1945, five members of the Henkel family and another seven members of the Management Board and the Supervisory Board were interned.

In 1949, the launch of Schauma shampoo by Schwarzkopf marked the start of the most successful German shampoos.

In 1954, Henkel-subsidiary Dreiring launched Fa soap, a new type of toilet soap. From 1970 onward it was joined by a series of Fa deodorants, shower gels and bubble baths, making Fa one of the best known umbrella brands in the toiletry sector.

Pritt, the world's first glue stick, made its debut in 1969. Over the years, other products were introduced under this brand, underlining Henkel's importance in the office and stationery supplies sector. Exports of Pritt began in the same year, eventually making this Henkel's most widespread global brand. Vernel fabric softener and enzyme-based bioactive Persil 70 appeared.

Starting in the 1960s, Henkel has combined organic growth with strategic company acquisitions:

  • In 1960, by acquiring Standard Chemical Products, Inc. (known as Henkel Inc from 1971), Henkel entered the U.S. chemical products market.
  • In 1962, Henkel acquired Sichel-Werke AG, Hannover, its main German competitor in the adhesives sector.
  • In 1974, Henkel acquired shares in The Clorox Company to facilitate the production and sale of certain products developed by Henkel for household and bulk consumers (sold in 2004).
  • In 1983, Henkel acquired the AOK facial care range from the company von Heyden GmbH and thus strengthened its position in the cosmetics retail trade.
  • In 1984, Teroson of Heidelberg (in existence since 1898) was acquired and integrated into Henkel's Adhesives and Surface Technologies business sectors.
  • Cosmetics company Hans Schwarzkopf GmbH was acquired by Henkel in 1995
  • In 1996 Henkel acquired Thiem Automotive, a division of National Starch and Chemical Company. The acquisition included a manufacturing plant in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.[5]
  • Later it purchased Loctite in 1997.
  • The purchase of The Dial Corporation in 2004 was the biggest acquisition in the history of the company until then: This renowned American personal care and household cleaning products company gave Henkel a strong foothold on the North American market.
  • In 2004, Henkel also acquired the American cosmetics company Advanced Research Laboratories (ARL), that has developed and marketed hair cosmetics.
  • Also in 2004, Henkel acquired Orbseal.[6] The former Orbseal plant in Richmond, MO was converted to a Henkel plant.[7]
  • In April 2008, Henkel acquired AkzoNobel, the adhesives and electronic materials businesses previously owned by National Starch. In 2007, these two business segments of National Starch generated sales of £1.25 billion (about 1.83 billion). The purchase price was £2.7 billion (about €3.7 billion).

On 5 May 2011, Jyothy Laboratories bought 50.97% stake in Henkel India. It has offered to buy 20% more in Henkel India through a compulsory open offer mandated by SEBI norms.[8]

In 2008, Henkel KGaA became Henkel AG & Co. KGaA. That same year, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lehner retired from his position as Chairman of the Management Board of Henkel KGaA. He was succeeded by Kasper Rorsted.[9] In September 2009, Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah was elected as new Chairwoman by the Henkel Shareholders’ Committee as well as Henkel’s Supervisory Board.[10] The retirement of Albrecht Woeste, who had been member of the Committee since 1976 and its president since 1990,[11] marked the transition from the fourth generation of the Henkel family to the fifth.

In 2010, Henkel defined a new corporate vision: “A global leader in brands and technologies”. In order to implement them into the company’s working environment, the five values “customers”, “people”, “financial performance”, “sustainability” and “family” were discussed by all employees in around 5,000 workshops. In 2011, Henkel introduced its new corporate design combined with the launch of its new claim “Henkel – Excellence is our Passion”.[12] I

In 2014, laundry products specialist Henkel offered to buy French-based laundry aids-to-shoe polish manufacturer Spotless for 940 million Euros (about $1.3 billion) in cash. “By acquiring Spotless, we will strengthen our market position and enter highly profitable growth segments,” Henkel chief executive at that time, Kasper Rorsted, told reporters.[13] The deal would slightly increase Henkel's share of the $82 billion global laundry care market to 8.7%, still well behind Procter & Gamble's 26.6% and the 14.8% market share held by Unilever, which sells Persil detergent—a Henkel brand—in some markets.[14] The takeover, which was subject to approval from antitrust authorities, was completed in May 2015.[15] Effective 1 May 2016, Hans Van Bylen took over the position as Chairman of the Henkel Management Board.[16] Also in 2016, Henkel acquired the laundry and home care company Sun Products for 3.2 billion euros ($3.6 billion), thus becoming No. 2 supplier in the North American laundry care market,[17] and presented its new strategic priorities and financial ambition for 2020.[18]


In its company history, Henkel emphasizes the importance of sustainable development. In 1958, for instance, Henkel’s research systematically studied washing active substances in surface waters, which led to the development of low-foam surfactants. Henkel was thus prepared for the German Detergents Act of 1961 passed in response to the mountains of foam on rivers and lakes. It permitted only readily biodegradable detergents to be used from 1964 onward. As early as 1992, Henkel published its first Environment Report.[19] Henkel is also a founding member of the “World Business Council for Sustainable Development” (WBCSD).[20] In 2003, Henkel declared its participation in the United Nations Global Compact and has committed itself to the Compact’s ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.[21] Since 2008, Henkel is an official member of the “Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil” (RSPO).[22]

In 2008, the company announced its sustainability targets for 2012, which were met by the end of 2010: energy consumption had decreased by 21 percent, water usage by 26 percent, and the amount of waste generated by 24 percent. Over the same period, the number of occupational accidents fell by 29 percent.[23] Presented in 2012, the goal of Henkel’s new Sustainability Strategy 2030 is to achieve more with less and to triple the efficiency. The strategy’s focal areas are divided into two dimensions: Under the headline “more value”, the company focuses on the areas “social progress”, “safety and health” and “performance”. The second dimension “reduced footprint” deals with “energy and climate”, “materials and waste” and “water and wastewater”.[24] As a short-term goal until 2015, Henkel aims to achieve a 15 percent reduction per production unit in the focal areas energy, water and waste. At the same time, the company plans to reach a 10 percent increase in net external sales per production unit. Henkel also intends to reduce its incident rate by 20 percent.[25]

Henkel has been listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index ever since it was established in 1999.[26] In 2011, the company was named sustainability leader in the Nondurable Household Products sector for the fifth consecutive time.

Henkel has structured its corporate citizenship activities around three core elements: supporting employee volunteering (MIT Initiative), corporate and brand engagement for the common good and emergency aid. Since 1998, Henkel employees and retirees have been involved in over 12,800 projects in more than 50 different countries.[27]

In 2016, Standard Ethics Aei has given a rating to Henkel in order to include the company in its Standard Ethics German Index.[28]

Social partnership

Henkel's Corporate and Brand Engagement programme is a social partnership supporting communities and social and public institutions around the world. Among those that benefit are sports clubs, hospitals, kindergartens, schools and universities, charity organizations and cultural events. Henkel supports long-term projects which meet social needs, promote education, health and culture and support the environment.

Henkel Innovation Challenge

In 2007, Henkel organized a students' innovative ideas competition.[29] Teams of two should propose a product with the focus on sustainability, creativity and future perspective—to "foresee" the possible needs for year 2030 or 2050. The contest was focused on beauty products initially, but later was broadened to all three main branches of activity.

Competitors and anti-competitive practices

Henkel's main competitors in its cleaning division are Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser. In its beauty division, its main competitors are Unilever, Procter and Gamble and L'Oréal.[30] In its chemical and adhesive division, it has many competitors, but the main multinational competitors are Bostik and H. B. Fuller.[31]

Henkel was fined by Autorité de la concurrence in France in 2016 for price-fixing on personal hygiene products.[32]

Business Areas

The Henkel company operates in three business areas:

Vintage Persil advertising in Wismar

Laundry & Home Care

Henkel's most famous brand is Persil, introduced in 1907, the first commercial "self-activated" laundry detergent, which means a bubbles forming bleach (sodium perborate) with a soap component (silicate). The abbreviation of the names of the two main components perborate and silicate compose the product name.

Other laundry & home care brands include Purex washing powder and liquid laundry detergent, Sun liquid laundry detergent, Vernel/Silan fabric softener, Somat/Glist dishwasher tablets, and Pril washing-up liquid. In the United States and Canada only (the brands elsewhere are owned by Unilever) All, Wisk, Snuggle, and Sunlight detergent and fabric softener brands are also Henkel brands. The brands owned by Unilever elsewhere, plus Sun, were acquired by Henkel through its acquisition of Sun Products in 2016.[33]

Persil Abaya Shampoo or Persil Black is a liquid detergent that Henkel introduced to the Saudi Arabian market in 2007 and later to other Gulf Cooperation Council region markets. The company sells the liquid as a specialist detergent for abayas, the loose, traditionally black, robe-like garments worn by women in many Islamic cultures.

Brands include:

  • Ballerina cleaning wipes.
  • Laundry care products:
    • All, Wisk, Snuggle, Sun, Surf, and Sunlight in the U.S., Bio Presto in Italy, and Persil and Purex, globally.
  • Blue Star toilet bowl cleaners.
  • Pril dishwasher liquid.
  • Allume-vite lighters.
  • Big D oven & grill cleaners.
  • Bloom insecticides. (Spain)

Adhesive Technologies

Henkel products are distributed through six brands — Loctite, LePage Bonderite, Terson, Aquence, Emerson & Cuming and Technomelt.[34] Henkel’s Technomelt system is a line of adhesive products known for water repellency, thermal stability, high temperature resistance, and low moisture absorbance, among other properties.[35] This product line is useful in applications ranging from food packaging and labels to high speed electronics.

Beauty Care

Schwarzkopf haircare, Schauma shampoo, Fa shower gel and deodorant, Diadermine skin and body care, Dial shower and hand soap.

The cosmetics company Hans Schwarzkopf GmbH was acquired by Henkel in 1995.[36][37]

Acquired three professional beauty brands in North America[38]:

  • Sexy Hair Concepts
  • Alterna
  • Kenra

Miss Fa Beauty Pageant

Elena Khlibko is Miss Fa Nizhny Novgorod Beauty Queen 1997

In 1993, 1994 and 1997 Henkel & Schwarzkopf organizes in Russia and CIS beauty pageant "Miss Fa".[39] The biggest pageant "Miss Fa Russia & CIS" was organized in 1997. The contest "Miss Fa" 1997 held in major cities of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan within the show "World of FAntastic sensation". 26 winners of regional rounds have gathered for the final in Yalta to fight for the title "Miss Fa Russia & CIS". This action is unique for Russia. For the first time a foreign company so powerfully demonstrated its interest in the Russian regions. Sales of the brand Fa for the year throughout Russia increased by 40%, overall sales of the company's products increased by 30%.[40] The cost of this event is $1 million.[41]

See also


  1. ^ In an agreement with Unilever, the Persil brand is only used by Henkel in mainland Europe (with the exception of France), while Unilever only uses the brand in the UK, Ireland, Oceania and other markets.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Annual Report 2016" (link). Henkel. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "Henkel on the Forbes Global 2000 List". Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "History of Henkel KGaA – FundingUniverse". Fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 May 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Henkel. "History". henkel.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Jyothy Laboratories buys Henkel AG stake in India subsidiary for Rs 617 crore — The Economic Times". indiatimes.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ Henkel. "Newsroom". henkel.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  11. ^ "Gruppo Henkel. Cambio al vertice". La Chimica & L'Industria (in Italian). Società Chimica Italiana (9): 8. November 2009. 
  12. ^ "Henkel updates logo, slogan". drugstorenews.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  13. ^ Alex Webb (5 June 2014). "Henkel Accelerates M&A Pace With $1.3 Billion Spotless Deal". Bloomberg. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  14. ^ Germany's Henkel expands laundry brands with $1.3 billion French deal, Victoria Bryan and Martinne Geller, Reuters news agency, 5 June 2014. Retrieved: 31 May 2015.
  15. ^ Avis de projet de fusion (Notice of Merger), Spotless Group corporate website, 28 May 2015. Retrieved: 31 May 2015.
  16. ^ Hans Van Bylen is Henkel’s new CEO, Henkel corporate website, 1 May 2016. Retrieved: 1 May 2016.
  17. ^ https://www.wsj.com/articles/henkel-hopes-to-clean-up-in-u-s-with-3-5-billion-sun-products-buy-1466749565, The Wall Street Journal, 24 June 2016. Retrieved: 2 December 2016.
  18. ^ Henkel 2020+: Focus on growth, digitalization and agility, Henkel corporate website, 17 November 2016. Retrieved: 2 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "WBCSD — World Business Council for Sustainable Development". wbcsd.org. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  21. ^ "The Ten Principles - UN Global Compact". unglobalcompact.org. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  22. ^ "How we work". rspo.org. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  23. ^ "Award for outstanding research". henkel.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  24. ^ Henkel. "Targets". henkel.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  25. ^ Henkel. "Targets". henkel.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  26. ^ "Henkel earns spot on Dow Jones Sustainability World Index". reliableplant.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  27. ^ "Sustainability Report 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 9 May 2017. 
  28. ^ "German Index". standardethicsindices.eu. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  29. ^ "Henkel Innovation Challenge". Henkelchallenge.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  30. ^ "HENOY: Henkel AG & Co KGaA ADR Top Competitors and Peers". financials.morningstar.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22. 
  31. ^ Investing, Marathon (2017-01-24). "Overview Of Henkel's Business Model And Strategy Until 2020". Seeking Alpha. Retrieved 2017-12-22. 
  32. ^ "Huge price-fixing fine is upheld". The Connexion. 28 October 2016. Archived from the original on 9 February 2017. 
  33. ^ "Vestar Capital Partners Agrees to Sell Sun Products to Henkel in $3.6 Billion Transaction - Business Wire". businesswire.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  34. ^ Henkel. "Brands & Businesses". www.henkel.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22. 
  35. ^ McKeown, Robert. "Technomelt™". www.robertmckeown.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22. 
  36. ^ 1995 Annual Report
  37. ^ "History". Schwarzkopf International. Archived from the original on 17 February 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  38. ^ "Henkel Acquires Sexy Hair, Kenra and Alterna - News - Modern Salon". Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  39. ^ "Miss Fa". 
  40. ^ "World of FAntastic sensation". 
  41. ^ "Miss Fa, Kommersant № 116 (1298), July 12, 1997". 

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