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Henkel (Germany)

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Household and personal care giant Henkel is the world #1 in consumer and industrial adhesives, and the #2 laundry and homecare manufacturer in Europe and now also the US, behind Procter & Gamble. In its home territory of Germany, it enjoys a near-50% share. It also has a strong presence in other European markets including France and Italy, and has become a major force in the international cosmetics and haircare sector through the 1997 acquisition of Germany company Schwarzkopf. In 2003 Henkel made a concerted push into the US consumer goods market through the purchase of Dial Corporation, now Henkel North America. It added to this with the 2015 purchase of independent dtergent business Sun Products. The group's huge portfolio of brands also includes the adhesives Loctite, Ceresit and Pritt, Fa wash products and the Persil detergent brand in Germany and some other countries, including now the US.


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Henkel AG & Co
Henkelstrasse 67
40589 Duesseldorf
Tel: 49 (0)211 797-0

Brands & Activities

Henkel is Germany's biggest packaged goods manufacturer but has been outpaced in personal and household care in many global markets (perhaps even in Germany as well) by foreign rivals. As a result, the group's personal care business is a little weak beyond its core market of continental Europe. However Henkel is determined to develop its presence further in the US as well as Asia and is known to be considering further acquisitions. The split in the combined portfolio between fast-moving consumer packaged goods and industrial adhesives may ultimately prove uncomfortable in the long-term, but for now the latter provides Henkel with a secure financial bedrock.

The group now operates as three divisions. These are Laundry & Home Care, Cosmetics & Toiletries, and Adhesives Technologies. The Laundry & Home Care and Cosmetics & Toiletries businesses together compete directly with Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others.

Henkel Laundry & Home Care generated revenues of almost €5.80bn in 2016, or around 31% of group sales, and operating profit of €803m. As a result of its leading position in its home country, it is the overall #2 home care manufacturer in Europe with around 22% market share (but #3 worldwide after P&G and Unilever). The group's key brand is Persil, which it owns almost everywhere except the UK, Ireland and France. Henkel rebadges the product in some countries as Dixan (in Italy or Spain for example), and as Le Chat in France. Its second-biggest market in Europe is France, where it is neck-and-neck with Lever as the #2 detergent manufacturer. Both companies have around 25% market share, behind P&G's 32%. The Persil brand launched in the US for the first time in 2015, exclusively through Walmart, under the banner of Persil ProClean. Henkel's combined global revenues from Persil were approximately €1.2bn in 2015.

Other German washing powder brands include Weisser Riese and Spee; the group has Super Croix and X-tra in France, Pemos in Russia, and a number of other regional European brands including recent launch Rex. Henkel also makes specialist detergent Perwoll (also known as Mir and Fleuril in some markets), stain remover Sil and fabric conditioner Vernel, which is sold in several countries in Europe as Silan. Dark wash liquid detergent Black Magic was rolled out across Europe in 2001, followed by Fresh Magic, which combats odours in synthetic fabrics, during 2002 and 2003.

Household cleaning products include glass cleaner Sidolin (in Germany), floor cleaner Sofix and kitchen/bathroom cleaning brands Der General, Sidol, Biff, Bref and WC Frisch. Henkel markets washing-up liquid and tablets Pril in Germany and eastern Europe, and dishwasher powder Somat in Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. Somat launched into the UK in 2001 as Glist, but has had some difficulty denting the dominance of Reckitt Benckiser's Finish as well as own-label brands. In 2004 the group established a UK manufacturing base with the acquisition of local independent Buck Chemicals, whose brands include toilet cleaner Frish and descaler Lime-Lite. Henkel has also acquired businesses in Iran, Serbia and Algeria.

The most significant deal, however, was the purchase in 2003 of US soap and detergent manufacturer Dial Corporation for $2.9bn. The two companies already enjoyed an alliance, formed in 1999, to market a range of enhanced laundry detergents under Dial's Purex brandname. The group also extended its presence in Latin America with the purchase of Mexican liquid detergent Mas. In the wake of the Dial purchase, Henkel unwound a separate relationship with another US household care company Clorox, in which it had held a 29% shareholding. It returned those shares to Clorox in exchange for a set of the American company's businesses: cleaning products Soft Scrub, the insecticides Combat, Home Mat, and Home Keeper. In 2016, a deal to acquire value detergents business Sun Products established Henkel as the local #2 in US laundry behind Procter & Gamble. See Henkel North America for more.

In May 2014, Henkel strengthened its European home care business with the acquisition of French manufacturer Spotless for €940m. Spotless produces a broad range of products including Dylon, Colour Catcher and Eau Ecarlate laundry additives; insect control products under the Catch, Vape and Global brands; and Croc d'Odor and Iba air fresheners. Although France and Italy are its biggest markets, it also has operations in the UK, Iberia and parts of eastern Europe. In 2015, the group acquired Colgate-Palmolive's laundry detergents and pre-wash products in Australia and New Zealand, including Cold Power, Dynamo, Fab and Sard. The price tag was around €220m. At the end of 2016, the group acquired the UK & Ireland operations of home care manufacturer Jeyes Group. Brands include Jeyes Fluid, toilet cleaner Bloo and Parazone bleach.

Henkel's Beauty Care division operates under the name Schwarzkopf & Henkel. Like its home care counterpart it dominates its domestic market, and is #4 in the market in Europe as a whole, and #8 worldwide. The business manufactures an ever-larger portfolio of hair care, body care and skin care products. Hair is the biggest sector, accounting for almost half of sales, primarily under the Schwarzkopf umbrella brand, with combined consumer and professional sales in excess of €2bn in 2015. The range is sold in more than 60 countries, and it was launched in the US retail market for the first time in 2015. The biggest product range in this group is the range of Poly hair colorants, and sub-brands such as Country Colors, Brillance and Palette, Gliss Kur and Schwarzkopf Professional. A new hair colorant, Vision, was launched in late 2001, followed by an innovative root retoucher pen. Essential Color is a newer range containing only naturally derived ingredients. The Poly brand also extends to a range of styling products aimed at a young market, as well as home perm liquids and mousses.

Other brands include best-selling German shampoos Schauma and Seborin and Taft hairsprays and styling products. Syoss is a new line of professional-standard haircare products, launched in 2009 targeting a consumer market. In the US, the group is mostly known for its DEP and LA Looks haircare brands. At the start of 2004 Henkel acquired Advanced Research Laboratories, a California-based hair care and styling business whose brands include got2b, Citré Shine, and Smooth 'N Shine. Mid-year it acquired Indola professional hair products in Europe from Alberto-Culver. In 2015, the group purchased the Xtreme styling brand in Mexico for €55m.

In oral care, Henkel's European brands include Theramed toothpaste, mouthwash and brushes in several markets, supported by Vademecum (mainly in France), Denivit (in Scandinavia) and Licor del Polo (in Spain). Well-known skin care products include Diadermine and Aok. Fa (soaps, bath products, deodorants) is now Europe's #2 bodycare brand. It is supported by Bac and Vogue/Dané (deodorants), Neutromed (bath products, soaps), Mont St. Michel (eau de toilette, soaps) and Barnaengen. In 2006, Dial acquired the Right Guard anti-perspirant and deodorant range as well as a small portfolio of other products from Procter & Gamble. Right Guard also has a strong position in the UK, where it is marketed by Henkel. An Italian subsidiary, Morris Profumi, managing a small mass market fragrance portfolio including brands such as Scorpio and licensed products for Fiorucci, Krizia, La Perla and Sergio Tacchini, was sold in 2007. Henkel-Lion Cosmetics is a joint venture in Japan with Lion Corporation. Beauty Care generated combined sales of €3.84bn in 2016, with operating profit of €526m. See also Henkel North America for more.

By far the biggest group activity overall, however, is Adhesives, accounting for combined sales of €8.96bn - almost half the group total - and €1.56bn in operating profit - roughly twice the contribution from detergents. Henkel makes more than 3,000 different industrial, consumer and specialist adhesives and sealants, sold in 140 countries. It is the global market leader with an estimated 14% share. Perhaps the most widely known business is Consumer & Craftsmen Adhesives, making a broad range of products targeting the household, office and home improvement markets, as well as professional adhesives for construction, flooring, roofing and decorating. The portfolio of individual products is gradually being consolidated to focus on key international brands. The division's top brands are global superglue market leader Loctite and the Pritt family of glues and correcting applications. Pattex is the umbrella name for a range of high-strength contact adhesives. The portfolio was enhanced by the acquisition of leading UK brand Sellotape in 2002, and Spain's Solyplast sealants. In North America it also includes the LePage brand. (However, Duck and other adhesive tapes in North America were sold in 2009). Other products include #1 wallpaper paste Metylan, UniBond DIY adhesives, flooring and tiling adhesives Thomsit and Ceresit, and pipe assembly application Tangit. In 2004 the group acquired two other US manufacturers, Sovereign Specialty Chemicals and Orbseal, followed in 2005 by further acquisitions in Germany, UAE and France. It continues to bolt on regional manufacturers to widen its global footprint. In early 2017, for example, it agreed to acquire US company Darex Packaging Technologies for just over €1.0bn.

However the consumer & craftsman division is dwarfed by the Industrial Adhesives business, which makes a vast range of different specialised glues, sealants and coatings for sectors as diverse as electronics, automotive, aerospace, machine building and medical devices, as well as many fields of general industry. The Loctite brand also extends to professional engineering adhesives. This division too has been swelled by a string of acquisitions including Converter Adhesives of India and Huawei Electronics of China, both in 2005; and the substantial adhesives and electronics divisions of National Starch, acquired for $5.8bn in 2008. Other international brands include Frekote, Hysol and Multicore. The Loctite brand alone contributed revenues of €2.7bn in 2015, from both consumer and industrial sales.


Revenues declined steadily between 2010 and 2013, before rebounding in 2014. For 2015, group revenues reached a new high of €18.09bn, up 10% reported and 3% on an organic basis excluding the effects of exchange rates and acquisitions. Attributable net income was also at record levels of €1.92bn, an increase of 18%. Net income has increased ever year since at least 2009.

Revenues for 2016 were €18.71bn, up 3.5%. That figure included a six-month contribution from Sun Products, but even with a full-year it would have fallen slightly below a stated target for 2016 of €20bn. Attributable net income rose 7% to €2.05bn. The US became the group's single biggest market for the first time in 2005. North America generated 22% of combined revenues in 2016 - it would have been 25% on a pro forma basis with a full year contribution from Sun Products - compared to 32% from Western Europe and 42% from emerging markets. The latter figure was also below the group's stated target of 50% of revenues.

Around 61% of the group's voting equity is shared between some 110 descendants of founder Fritz Henkel. Simone Bagel-Trah, the great-great-granddaughter of founder Fritz Henkel, was named as the chair of the supervisory board in September 2009, becoming the first woman to chair a DAX 40-quoted German company.


In 1878, chemist Fritz Henkel set up in business to launch Henkel's Bleich Soda (later known as Henko), a general soaking detergent which stopped laundry from yellowing. The product was very successful, and Henkel expanded rapidly, becoming a major industrial force by the end of the 19th century. For a while the company was even one of the country's biggest importers of tea (discontinued in 1913). Further research masterminded by the founder's youngest son Hugo led to the discovery of a formula for making a revolutionary new sort of "self-acting" detergent that would remove dirt in the wash without bleaching. He introduced Persil in 1907 with enormous success. Henkel followed this with rinsing agent Sil, launched in 1918, and household cleaner Ata in 1920. That decade, the company diversified into vegetable glues when its local packaging supplier went out of business. Although the first adhesives were manufactured for the company's own use, subsequent products were targeted at a consumer and industrial market. In 1924 the group acquired a stake in its nearest detergents rival, Dreiring-Werke, itself a merger of 11 other soap manufacturers who had joined forces in order to avoid being forced out of business by Persil. In 1929 the group acquired a stake in (and later full ownership of) Dr Thompson's Seifen-pulver, the German arm of the company which had first discovered a technique for turning soap into powder.

Fritz Henkel died in 1930, leaving the business in the hands of his three children. They continued the expansion of the business, founding factories throughout Europe and even setting up a whaling fleet to provide the animal fats used in their products. By 1937, Henkel owned production companies in twelve countries in central and eastern Europe and Scandinavia. However the Second World War led to a complete dismantling of this empire. In 1939, production of Persil was suspended in favour of a low-quality standard washing powder. Towards the end of the war, many of the company's production facilities in Germany were destroyed in Allied bombing raids, and much of what remained was confiscated in 1945. Henkel's operations outside Germany were generally sold to local companies or nationalised.

The company was given permission to restart limited operations in 1949 with the launch of fine-fabric detergent Perwoll. Persil was reintroduced a year later, the same year the company acquired German hair colorant Polycolor. As Germany rebuilt itself during that decade, Henkel unleashed a stream of new household products onto the market. In 1951 the company launched dishwashing liquid Pril, followed by Metylan wallpaper paste (1953), Fa soap (1954), and Pattex adhesives a year later. In 1956, the first commercial to air on German television was for Persil. Dixan was introduced in 1957. As dishwashers began to be introduced into homes in the early 1960s, Henkel launched Somat, followed by Weisser Reise washing powder. In 1969 the company invented a new form of handy adhesive, packaged in simple stick tablets. The Pritt Stick went on to become a huge worldwide success.

The group finally began to dip its toe into the international sector. In 1960, Henkel bought US company Standard Chemicals, then strengthened its position in 1974 with the purchase of a 15% stake (later increased to 29%) in Clorox. It also acquired General Mills' chemicals division, as well as a number of other North American chemicals businesses during the 1980s. In 1985, the Henkel family floated off around a third of the company to fund further expansion, but retained full voting control of the business. During the 1990s, Henkel moved into Asia, China, Eastern Europe and South America. Hygiene division Henkel-Ecolab was formed in 1991 as a joint venture with the US cleansing services business Ecolab. The business became the global market leader for providing cleaning and hygiene products and services to institutional and industrial customers worldwide, but was transferred back to Ecolab in 2001 in return for a minority stake in the US company.

By the mid-1990s, Henkel was already a leading manufacturer of personal care products such as soap and hair colour, but the group substantially increased the size of this business with the purchase in 1995 of international haircare manufacturer Schwarzkopf, then a division of drug company Hoechst. Hans Schwarzkopf had operated a small Berlin pharmacy at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1903 he began selling a powder shampoo of his own devising, and the company launched Germany's first liquid shampoo in 1927. Later successes included the country's first cold perm dressing in 1947, the hugely successful Schauma shampoo launched in 1949, and the hairspray Taft introduced in 1955. The acquisition of Schwarzkopf made Henkel one of Europe's biggest haircare companies, and the group bolstered this business further with the 1998 acquisition of US hair gel company DEP. The two businesses were combined in North America. Other acquisitions included industrial chemicals business Novamax, and the American adhesives firms Loctite and Manco. The Loctite purchase (in 1997) cost Henkel $1.3bn, but secured the company's position as the world's #1 adhesives manufacturer.

In 1999, Henkel announced a new US-based joint venture with Dial Corporation to introduce a range of enhanced laundry detergents using Henkel technology but sold under Dial's Purex brand. Three months later, the partners purchased regional home dry cleaning range Custom Cleaner, and rolled out the product in Europe as Svit. However the business failed to take off and the joint venture was officially dissolved in 2001. Henkel also agreed a joint venture with Japanese personal and household care manufacturer Lion Corporation. The two companies swapped shareholdings and industrial technologies. The first result of cooperation was the launch by Henkel-Lion Cosmetics of a new detergent, Top Power Tablet, based on Henkel technology. During 2000, the group acquired Japan's #4 haircare manufacturer Yamahatsu Sangyo, and transferred Yamahatsu's hair care and hair coloration products into the Henkel-Lion business.

A year later Henkel expanded its operations in Europe with an 85% stake in Pemos, Russia's second largest domestic detergent company. It launched Persil in Russia in late 2000, but sales were slow for the higher-priced brand. At the same time the group acquired Colgate-Palmolive's detergent business in Mexico. Specialty chemicals business Cognis was put up for sale in 2001 and was eventually sold to a consortium of venture capital funds for €2.6bn ($2.4bn). The group made history in early 2002, acquiring a 60% stake in Iranian detergent company Pakvash for $18m in Henkel shares. It was the first share-based acquisition of an Iranian company by a foreign business.

In 2002, rumours circulated that Henkel was negotiating to acquire German family-controlled haircare and cosmetics group Wella for approximately €5.3bn. In 2003, Henkel began building a small stake in the smaller company, but was outmanoeuvred by Procter & Gamble, which agreed a deal with the haircare company's family shareholders to take control of the business. The same year, Henkel retaliated on P&G's home turf by acquiring smaller laundry and soap rival Dial. In 2008, the group floated its remaining 29% shareholding in US industrial cleaning services company Ecolab for a total of €1.7bn.

Last full revision 15th March 2017

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