• UK & Ireland | Change Website
  • Contact
  • Add to my collection
  • Share

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.


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.

Shampoon – Germany’s first hair-washing powder

In 1903, Schwarzkopf launched Shampoon (price: 20 pfennigs), the first hair-washing powder on 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 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.

Dr. Konrad Henkel became General Manager and first German TV spot promoted Persil

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

The first advertising spot ever aired on German television promoted Persil.

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. 

Henkel went public

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.

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.

Acquisition of Loctite

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.

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.

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.

Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah became Head of a Supervisory Board

Dip. Ing. Albrecht Woeste handed over the chairmanship of the Supervisory Board and Shareholders’ Committee to his successor Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah. Thereby he accomplished the transition from the fourth to the fifth generation of the Henkel family. Dip.-Ing. Albrecht Woeste became “Honorary Chairman of the Henkel Group”. Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah is the first woman at the Head of a Supervisory Board of a Dax 30 company.

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.

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 sustainability strategy applies to all business sectors and the entire value chain.

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.

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 acquires the US laundry and home care company The Sun Products Corporation from a fund of Vestar Capital Partners. The acquisition is a step-change for the business in North America. Henkel reaches the No. 2 position in the North American laundry care market. The acquisition includes leading laundry care brands such as all® and Sun® as well as the fabric conditioner Snuggle®.

This acquisition complements and strengthens the company’s existing laundry and 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.

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.

Henkel expands corporate venture capital activities

With investments of more than 25 million euros in a number of start-ups and venture capital funds, Henkel now manages its venture capital activities in a dedicated unit: Henkel Ventures


Acquisition of Darex Packaging Technologies and Sonderhoff Group

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