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Henkel KGaA
(ISIN: DE0006048432 (preferred),
ISIN: DE0006048408 (common))
HeadquartersDüsseldorf, Germany
Key peopleProf.Dr.Ulrich Lehner (Chairman Management Board)
IndustryConsumer Brands & Industrial Technologies
ProductsPersil, Pritt, Dial, Loctite, Soft&Dri, Pril, Fa, Bref, Pattex
Revenue €11,794 billion (2005)
Operating income €1,162 billion (2005)
Employees52 565 (2005)
SubsidiariesDial Corporation
Slogan"A Brand like a Friend"

  Henkel KGaA (ISIN: DE0006048432, ISIN: DE0006048408) is an international household products company headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The company has four business sectors operating in three strategic areas: Home Care (with household cleaning products such as laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid), Personal Care (with beauty and oral care products such as shampoo, toothpaste, hair colorants and shower gel), and Adhesives, Sealants & Surface Treatment for consumer and industrial purposes.

With presence in 125 countries on five continents, Henkel engages in the majority of their business within Europe and North America.

It controls leader brands like, Persil[1] washing powder, Spee washing powder, Vernal/Silan fabric softener, Somat/Glist dishwasher tablets, Pril washing-up liquid, Schwarzkopf haircare, Schauma shampoo, Fa shower gel and deodorant, Dial shower and hand soap , Pritt glue sticks, Duck industrial tape, and Sellotape clear sticky tape. Henkel's most famous brand is Persil, the first commercial laundry detergent. Before that it was only either soap flakes or actual bars of soap.

Its main competitors are in the cleaning division, Unilever, Procter and Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser. In its beauty division, its competitors are Unilever, Procter and Gamble and L'Oréal.


The company was founded in 1876 in Aachen as Henkel & Cie 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 1888, 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.

In 1903, Schwarzkopf, a mid-1990's acquisition, 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 1892, 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 July 25, 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 April 25, 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 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 June 26, 1923, Henkel entered into the adhesive market: a glue was sold to a neighboring company for the first time. Henkel entered the packaging industry, and took on industry-leading Sichel in interior decorations and wallcoverings

During the Nazi era, Henkel used slave labor to operate its facilities. Henkel was part of a large-scale restitution settlement.

On April 16, 1945 American troops occupied Henkel's Düsseldorf site and confiscated one third of it. On June 5, the British military command in Düsseldorf took over from the Americans. From July 20, 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 September 20, 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 shampoo.

In 1954, Henkel launched Fa soap, a new type of toilet soap made from high-quality vegetable oils and animal fats. 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 USA 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, USA, to facilitate the production and sale of certain products developed by Henkel for household and bulk consumers. 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 1991 Teroson of Heidelberg (in existence since 1898) was acquired and integrated into Henkel's Adhesives and Surface Technologies business sectors. Later it purchased Loctite in 1997. The purchase of The Dial Corporation is the biggest acquisition in the history of the company to date: this renowned US detergent and cosmetics manufacturer gives Henkel a strong foothold on the North American market. Henkel also acquired the American cosmetics company Advanced Research Laboratories (ARL), that has developed and marketed innovative, high-quality hair cosmetics for over 20 years.

Latest Official Results

According to the Official 2005 annual report, Henkel's sales rose by 13.0 percent to €11,974 million with all business sectors and regions contributing to the increase. Operating profit (EBIT) increased by 16.7 percent to €1,162 million. Earnings per preferred share increased to €5.31 from €5.24 in the previous year.


  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.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Henkel". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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