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.

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 made without ingredients of animal origin.

Henkel Expands Corporate Venture Capital Activities

With investments of more than 25 million Euros in multiple start-ups and venture capital funds, Henkel decided to manage its venture capital activities in a dedicated unit: Henkel Ventures

Acquisition of Darex Packaging Technologies and Sonderhoff Group

With the successful acquisitions of the global Darex Packaging Technologies business and the Sonderhoff Group, Henkel strengthened its Adhesive Technologies business and complements its technology portfolio.

Management Board Changes at Henkel

On May 1, 2016, Hans Van Bylen succeeded Kasper Rorsted as the company’s new CEO. Hans Van Bylen previously served as the Executive Vice President for Beauty Care. Pascal Houdayer takes over as the new Executive Vice President for Beauty Care.

Acquisition of The Sun Products Corporation

Henkel acquired the US Laundry and Home Care Company, The Sun Products Corporation on September 1, 2016 from a fund of Vestar Capital Partners. The acquisition was an improvement for business in North America and secured Henkel the No. 2 position in the North American Laundry Care market. The acquisition included leading laundry care brands such as: All®, Sun®, and the fabric conditioner Snuggle®.

This acquisition complemented and strengthened the company’s existing Laundry & Home Care portfolio with well-known and successful brands in North America. With a transaction volume of around 3.2 billion Euros, the Sun Products acquisition is the second-largest acquisition in Henkel’s history.

New Strategic Priorities and Financial Ambition

On November 17, Henkel presented its new strategic priorities and financial ambition, with the objective to shape Henkel to 2020 and beyond – concisely named “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.

Henkel opened its new UK Headquarters in Hemel Hempstead, bringing together colleagues from different businesses and functions. The state of the art building allows greater cross collaboration across the businesses, whilst ensuring that colleagues will have a modern work place to be proud.

The new HQ has a restaurant and meeting centre and has been designed to be future-proof with a variety of flexible and on-demand working spaces and environments including a Tele-presence suite to enable easy conferencing with colleagues all over the world. There are a variety of client showrooms, a conference area and formal and informal meeting places.

The new building stands alongside Henkel’s existing facility at Wood End Lane, Hemel Hempstead. It features high efficiency heating and cooling systems that also generate hot water. There are movement sensitive controls to minimise energy wastage, automatic leak detection and taps. Solar glass minimises heat gains from the sun.

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 transaction, including debt, is valued at 940 million euros and will be financed in cash. The Spotless Group mainly operates in the areas of laundry aids (laundry sheets, stain removers, fabric dyes), insect control and household care in Western Europe. Among the leading brands of the company are Eau Ecarlate, Dylon, Grey and Catch. In the fiscal year 2013, the company generated sales of about 280 million euros. The Spotless Group holds leading market positions in established European markets such as France, Italy, Spain, Benelux and the UK, and employs about 470 people.

Henkel also signed an agreement with TSG Consumer Partners, San Francisco/USA, to acquire the three US Hair Professional companies SexyHair, Alterna and Kenra for around 270 million euros in cash. These businesses will strengthen the Henkel US Hair Professional portfolio especially in the categories of Care and Styling. The acquisition will position Henkel as one of the leading companies in the world’s single biggest Hair Professional market. In the fiscal year 2013, the acquired companies generated sales of about 140 million euros.

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. Bergquist, based in Chanhassen, MN, USA, supplies thermal-management solutions for electronic applications, serving a variety of industries ranging from automotive to consumer and industrial electronics as well as LED lighting, in North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. In fiscal 2013, Bergquist generated sales of around 130 million euros. The company has about 1,000 employees and six production sites – five in the US and one in China. The acquisition will strengthen the position of Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business as a global leader.

Presentation of New Strategies

In 2012, Henkel presented its four-year strategy and financial targets to achieve by 2016. The strategy centred around the strategic priorities to outperform, globalize, simplify, and inspire.

In the same year, the company published its Sustainability Strategy 2030. The core of this strategy is to achieve more with less and tripling the company’s efficiency. The sustainability strategy applies to all business sectors and the entire value chain.

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.

Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah: Head of Supervisory Board

Dipl. Ing. Albrecht Woeste handed over the chairmanship of the Supervisory Board and Shareholders’ Committee to his successor, Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah in 2009. This transition marked the change of power between the fourth to the fifth generation of the Henkel family. Dipl. Ing. Albrecht Woeste became an “Honorary Chairman of the Henkel Group.” Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah is the first woman to become the Head of a Supervisory Board of a DAX 30 company.

Kasper Rorsted became CEO

On the day of the Annual General Meeting Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lehner was retired as planned (after reaching the Henkel-internal retirement age) and handed over the office of Chairman of the Management Board to Kasper Rorsted. Since then, the Dane is Chairman of the Henkel Management AG.

Acquisition of The Dial Corporation

In 2004, Henkel purchased the US-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.

New shareholders’ pooling agreement

Members of the Henkel family, as holders of ordinary shares in the company, concluded a new shareholders’ pooling agreement for an indefinite period, from which individual signatories cannot withdraw before 2016. The new agreement ensured that the Henkel family would retain long-term control of more than 50 percent of the voting shares.

For the first time, Henkel ordinary shares were traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt-on-Main, Düsseldorf (both in Germany) and in Switzerland. Ordinary shares could therefore be acquired by investors from outside the Henkel family. At the same time, the nominal share value was reduced from 50 to 5 DM.

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.

Dr. Konrad Henkel & First Commercial on German Television

1956, Dr. Konrad Henkel became General Manager of Henkel & Cie GmbH.

In November 1956, Henkel set new advertising standards with the first commercial in the history of German television – in the evening program, TV channel ARD broadcasted the “Mahlzeit” spot with two famous German actors. Persil developed further legendary TV-commercial concepts in the years that followed. The famous television slogan “With Persil, you know what you get” is still remembered.

First Loctite Adhesive

Professor Vernon Krieble presented his adhesive, “Loctite, the liquid locknut” in 1956. 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. Through incremental steps, Henkel’s stakes in the company rose to 35 percent by 1996. Henkel acquired Loctite entirely in 1997. Today, Loctite is the biggest brand in the world in the Adhesive Technologies business.

First Henkel adhesive 

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.

Shampoon: Germany’s First Hair-Washing Powder

In 1903, Schwarzkopf launched Shampoon (priced at 20 pfennigs), the first hair-washing powder in the German market. The packaging featured the now-familiar black silhouette logo, a black icon of a head in profile. The success of Shampoon encouraged Hans Schwarzkopf to give up his drugstore business in order to concentrate on production and marketing.

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 Henkel

On September 26, 1876, 28-year-old Fritz Henkel and his two partners founded Henkel & Cie in Aachen, Germany. The company launched a laundry detergent based on sodium silicate, which they named “Universal-Washmittel.” Unlike other similar products on the market at the time, Henkel’s heavy-duty detergent was sold in handy packets.