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Few companies can match Church & Dwight for sheer inventiveness. The company has grown to multi-billion-dollar status by taking one simple substance, sodium bicarbonate, and creating from it a dazzling array of different products ranging from household cleaners and pet litter to toothpaste and antiperspirants, all under the distinctive Arm & Hammer logo. Strategic acquisitions have bulked the portfolio further with brands as well-known and as diverse as Trojan condoms and Brillo scouring pads, as well as the Close-Up, Mentadent and Spinbrush oral care brands in North America previously owned by Unilever and Procter & Gamble.
C&D's main competitors include Procter & Gamble (in laundry and oral care), Henkel and Clorox (in laundry and cleaning products), Colgate-Palmolive (in oral care), Reckitt Benckiser (in depilatories and cleaning products, and more recently condoms), Pfizer (primarily in pregnancy testing) and SC Johnson (in cleaning products). See Personal Care Sector and Household Care Sector indexes for other companies
Church & Dwight has steadily accumulated a strong collection of diverse consumer products, built around its core Arm & Hammer brand. In its main domestic market, the group is a strong #2 or #3 in several major categories, such as value laundry and oral care, and the clear leader in smaller segments including condoms, pregnancy testing kits and depilatory creams. Although it has some international business, the company is still heavily reliant on the US market.
Church & Dwight is America's largest producer of sodium bicarbonate, better known as baking soda, from which it manufactures a broad variety of products for consumer and industrial use. It is best-known for its Arm & Hammer brand, which has been extended successfully to embrace a surprisingly wide range of household and personal care products. In fact it is hard to think of another packaged goods brand which has applied itself so effectively to so many very different products. The core of the portfolio remains Arm & Hammer Baking Soda for household cleaning. However the brand has expanded with considerable success into laundry with a wide range of Arm & Hammer Detergents and fabric conditioners; into pet care with Arm & Hammer Pet Litter and floor protection products; into carpet and refrigerator deodorizers and air fresheners; into antiperspirants with the Arm & Hammer Ultramax brand; and perhaps most notably into oral care, with Arm & Hammer Baking Soda toothpaste. A big success when launched in the late 1980s, the company has since seized the opportunity to expand the range into dental gum and mouthwash (Arm & Hammer Breath Care). The group even markets its baking soda as a natural pH stabilizer for swimming pools.
A separate division, Arm & Hammer Specialty Products, handles industrial manufacturing of sodium bicarbonate and other inorganic cleaners and animal nutrition products. Combined annual sales for the Arm & Hammer portfolio topped $1bn for the first time during 2010, and accounted for 40% of group sales by 2013, or almost $1.3bn. In 2014, the group agreed an unorthodox sponsorship agreement with Major League Baseball, making Arm & Hammer and sister brand OxiClean the official laundry detergent and stain remover of MLB.
According to figures from IRI (52 weeks to Jan 2015, all retail, Grocery HQ), Church & Dwight was #2 in the US liquid detergent market behind P&G, with 17.2% share, equivalent to sales of $889m. (Sun Products and Henkel/Dial were #3 and #4 respectively).
Church & Dwight has strengthened its portfolio further by bolstering key sectors with acquired brands, initially through two deals in 2001 to acquire USA Detergents and Carter-Wallace. These added brands included low-priced Xtra laundry detergent and Nice 'n Fluffy conditioner, America's best-selling condoms Trojan (with around 76% market share by value) and spin-off line Elexa, the leading US depilatory Nair, top-selling pregnancy testing kit First Response and Pearl Drops tooth polish. The antiperspirant portfolio was strengthened with Arrid deodorant; the cleaning range now also includes long-established household favourite Brillo Soap Pads (in North America only; SC Johnson has rights in Europe), Clean Shower stain preventer, Scrub-Free stain remover and Snobol toilet cleaner.
In 2006, Church & Dwight agreed a $325m takeover of Orange Glo International, whose products include the eponymous household cleaner and leading pre-wash laundry additive Oxi-Clean. Both brands were already widely known in the US as a result of a series of hard-sell direct response advertising campaigns featuring pitchman Billy Mays. Mays continued to promote Orange Glo, Oxi-Clean and also the main Arm & Hammer brand until his untimely death in 2009. Like the Arm & Hammer brand, OxiClean is also being extended into other segments, including premium laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent and household bleach.
Church & Dwight launched a brand new household cleaning product in 2010, Kaboom foaming bathroom cleaner. Until recently, the group also owned Lambert Kay pet grooming and cleaning products. These were sold in 2010 to PBI/Gordon. In Canada the group still controls Carter-Horner, a former Carter-Wallace subsidiary whose products include DTC medicines such as travel sickness remedy Gravol, topical analgesic Rub A535, and digestive medications Diovol and Ovol.
The group more than doubled the size of its oral care portfolio in 2003 by agreeing to acquire Unilever's entire North American toothpaste portfolio for around $110m. This added exclusive licensing rights to Close-Up toothpaste, as well as outright control of Mentadent toothpaste and toothbrushes, Pepsodent and Aim toothpaste. In 2005, C&D agreed to acquire the SpinBrush battery-powered toothbrush brand from Procter & Gamble (which was obliged to sell it as a condition of merger with Gillette). Purchase price was $75m with a further $30m payable dependent on future performance. In 2008, the group acquired the oral analgesic Orajel from Coty. In 2017, the group expanded its oral care portfolio even further with a $1bn cash offer for Water Pik, the maker of electric water flossers and sonic toothbrushes. That's a little under four times Water Pik's annual sales.
UK-based dry shampoo Batiste joined the personal care portfolio in 2011 for $65m. A move in a new direction was the acquisition of Avid Health in 2012 for around $650m, adding a range of dietary supplements sold under brands including L'il Critters and Vitafusion. Another new line was added in 2016 with the acquisition of Toppik, a fibre-building treatment for thinning hair, for $175m.
Church & Dwight has generally reported slow but steady growth for several years. Group sales for 2015 rose 3% to a new high of just under $3.40bn. Net income peaked in 2014 at $414m, but slipped back slightly for 2015 to $410m as a result of a non-cash pension adjustment. Without that item it would have risen to $435m.
The group has a small international business. Its main operations are in specialty chemicals in the UK and Brazil, but international sales of the consumer brands are also developing, mainly in Canada, France the UK and Australia. However the US still accounts for around 83% of total sales, and Walmart accounted for approximately 24% of group revenues or $815m.
The company was formed in 1846 when brothers-in-law John Dwight and Austin Church joined forces to begin commercial manufacture of bicarbonate of soda, a natural product then used primarily for home baking. In a slightly different formulation (as washing soda), the same substance was used in laundry washing to reduce scum from laundry soap. The partners and their sons also operated other sidelines. Church, for example, also ran a spice and mustard business known as the Vulcan Spice Mills. He first introduced the Arm & Hammer trademark for this business around 1860 in recognition of the traditional depiction in Roman mythology of the god Vulcan as a blacksmith. The families pursued their separate interests until 1896, when all their various businesses were combined as Church & Dwight. The Arm & Hammer symbol was adopted as the main trademark.
For the next 60 years the company marketed its baking and washing sodas as all-purpose domestic cleaning and baking aids. By mid-century, however, both businesses were under threat. Home baking was in decline, with the result that baking soda sales were falling, while washing soda became virtually obsolete in the 1950s following the arrival of more effective synthetic detergents. In 1968 the company came under the control of Dwight Minton, the great-great-grandson of Austin Church. Noting a resurgence in sales of washing soda in the 1970s after years of sharp decline, he saw the benefits of marketing bicarbonate of soda as a natural cleaning agent in an age dominated by increasingly toxic and polluting phosphate chemicals. Having acquired another small company which had begun experimenting with sodium bicarbonate-based laundry detergents, he launched Arm & Hammer Fabricare as a non-phosphate laundry detergent. Against the odds, Minton also managed to resurrect the company's baking soda business after realizing that the powder naturally absorbed unpleasant odours. Church & Dwight began packaging its baking soda as a refrigerator deodorizer, with remarkable success.
The company went public in 1977, and later spun off a range of ever more ingenious product extensions, such as toothpaste and carpet deodorizer in 1988, followed by personal deodorants in 1994. The company also explored a number of other industrial uses for its core product. Baking soda proved useful in the treatment and filtration of dirty water, but even more so as a buffer agent in cattle feed to reduce the animals' natural production of digestive acid. This is now the largest industrial use for baking soda.
In the late 1990s, the group started rounding out its portfolio with selected acquisitions, such as Brillo Pads from Dial, and a range of household cleaners from Benckiser. In 2000, Church & Dwight joined forces with rival laundry detergent company USA Detergents to pool their respective brands in Armus, a joint venture company designed to compete more effectively with Procter & Gamble and Unilever. A year later C&D bought out its partner for around $120m. The group also bolstered its range of personal care products with the acquisition of Carter-Wallace. The latter had built its success on Carter's Little Liver Pills, a popular laxative widely used since the 1920s. During the 1930s and 1940s it launched Arrid deodorant and Nair depilatory cream with great success, later moved into prescription drugs and acquired a number of other businesses including First Response pregnancy testing kits from Tambrands and Youngs Drugs Products, makers of Trojan. In 2001 the business was acquired from the Carter family by investors who broke it up and sold on its various parts. The largest chunk of the assets went to Church & Dwight, which acquired the petcare and antiperspirant divisions outright for around $128m. The larger personal care portfolio, led by the Trojan and Nair brands, was transferred to a joint venture with investment house Kelso & Company. Church & Dwight bought out Kelso in 2004 to take full control of those products.
The group more than doubled the size of its oral care portfolio in 2003 by agreeing to acquire Unilever's entire North American toothpaste portfolio for around $110m. Because of that deal it was also regarded as a potential buyer of Unilever's North American detergent business five years later. In the end, however, it was unable to match the offer of rival manufacturer Huish.
Last full revision 22nd June 2016
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