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 along with 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.

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.

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 Schwarzkopf

In 1898, the state-approved chemist, Hans Schwarzkopf, took over a dye, drug, and perfumery business in Berlin-Charlottenburg. The name Schwarzkopf has been synonymous with hair competence and values, such as modernity, high quality, and innovative strength.

Schwarzkopf has been part of Henkel since its acquisition in 1995. The brand’s successful history makes Schwarzkopf an ideal umbrella brand for a clearly differentiated brands portfolio serving both our consumer segment and our international hair salon business, Schwarzkopf Professional.

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.

Persil: First Self-Acting Laundry Detergent

In 1907, Persil was launched as the world’s first self-acting laundry detergent, which has been the cornerstone for Henkel’s growth since then. The detergent’s success was two-fold: it cleaned and bleached laundry without chlorine, eliminating the physically strenuous task of scrubbing and washing by hand, which caused fabrics to wear, and also improved general household hygiene. These are directly tangible contributions that Henkel made to social progress. Today, Persil is Germany’s No. 1 laundry detergent and one of the top brands in the Laundry & Home Care business.

Switzerland: The First Production Site Abroad

On January 29, 1913, Henkel founded its first subsidiary: Henkel & Cie AG in Basel-Pratteln, Switzerland. Until 1923, it remained Henkel’s only subsidiary with a plant outside of Germany. Henco and Persil were both produced there. The site covered an area of 9,161 square meters. In its first year, it saw sales of about 1.5 million Swiss francs.

The First Henkel Adhesive

Early in 1922, in the cellar of the Holthausen packing department building, Henkel began to produce ready-to-use adhesives: 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 personal use. In 1923, glue was sold to a neighboring company for the first time. From 1928, Henkel started to export adhesives, to its European neighbors and in 1929 expanded its reach to Australia and South America.

The First Appearance of the “White Lady”

The “White Lady,” who was designed and brought to life by Berliner artist Kurt Heiligenstaedt, appeared for the first time in 1922 and has been a part of Persil’s history ever since.

First Industrial Cleaner: P3

In 1929, Henkel expanded its portfolio by including the industrial cleaner P3. P3 cleaners enable the removal of dirt or other contaminants from hard surfaces.

First Kindergarten at the Henkel Plant

Henkel opened a kindergarten at the Düsseldorf-Holthausen plant in 1940. Today it is known as Gerda-Henkel-KiTa.

Reorganization of the Management and Advisory Board

On November 21, 1947, the Henkel family returned to the company and the former Management Board members were reinstated with their rights fully restored. On December 10, Henkel implemented a reorganization of the Management and Advisory Board.


Poly Color Hair Colorant

TheraChemie began marketing these liquid hair colorants in 1947. Henkel entered the cosmetics business through the acquisition of TheraChemie in 1950. The image below shows a Poly Color package from 1950.

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.

Henkel acquires 40 per cent interest share in Diamond Shamrock (India) Ltd

Henkel made a foray in India with the acquisition of 40 per cent interest share in Diamond Shamrock (India) Ltd. A technical cooperation agreement was signed for the production of specialized products for industrial applications; the company was renamed as Henkel Chemical (India) Ltd.

Beauty Care Brand Fa in India

In January, license agreement was signed between Henkel and the Contemporary Perfums UK Ltd. and its Indian subsidiary for the licensed production and retailing of the Beauty Care Brand Fa

Joint Venture in India with a subsidiary of Tamil Nadu Petrochemicals

Henkel entered Joint Venture with a subsidiary of Tamil Nadu Petrochemicals; mutual agreement to form a new company called Spic Fine Chemicals Ltd.

Inauguration of Spic Fine Chemicals’ new detergent production facility near Madras

Inauguration of Spic Fine Chemicals’ new detergent production facility near Madras (now called Chennai); phosphate-free detergents were produced there; annual outcome of production: 15,000 tons of detergents, 10,000 tons of the phosphate substitute Sasil, 15,000 tons of soap bars

Henko launched in India

Henko, one of the oldest Henkel brands (going back to the first trademark success Henkel’s Bleichsoda of 1878), was launched in India and sold as a stain remover.

Acquisition of Schwarzkopf

In July 1995, Henkel acquired Schwarzkopf. With the acquisition, Henkel was able to double the sales of its Beauty Care business unit. Schwarzkopf is now one of the leading hair cosmetics brands in the world and is one of the largest brand in the Henkel portfolio.

Henkel Spic India Ltd

Henkel Spic Fine Chemicals was renamed to Henkel Spic India Ltd. (HSIL)

Joint ventures with Indian companies

Joint Venture of Henkel Germany and Chembond Chemicals Limited to form a new company called Henkel Chembond Surface Technologies Ltd., which was into metal pretreatment for the automotive industry. (In June 2015, Henkel acquired the remaining 49% non-controlling interest in Henkel Chembond Surface Technologies Ltd. from Chembond Chemicals Ltd.).

Acquisition of Modern Home Care Products in India

Acquisition of Modern Home Care Products, market leader with several liquid detergents

Henkel India Teroson

Henkel Teroson formed a Joint Venture with Anand Group company (New Delhi) to form a new company Henkel India Teroson; products: adhesive technologies and sealants for the automotive industry, one of Henkel’s key businesses to this day not only in India but also globally. The company was renamed as Henkel Anand India Pvt. Ltd. in 2015.

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.

Expansion of Business in the Asia-Pacific

Henkel expanded the business, especially in the Asia-Pacific region with various joint ventures, stat-ups, and acquisitions. As a joint project of Henkel (China) Investment Co. Ltd. And Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Henkel Jiao Tong Management Training Center opened in Shanghai.

Acquisition of Calcutta Chemicals and Detergents India

Acquisition of Calcutta Chemicals and Detergents India; the product portfolio was enlarged to soaps, toothpaste and skin care products

Henkel-Loctite India Private Limited

Henkel Germany acquired Loctite Corporation in 1997, in 2002, Loctite India Private Limited ‏(Incorporated in 1990) was renamed as Henkel-Loctite India Private Limited.

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.

Henkel CAC

Henkel acquired 76% of Converter Adhesives and Chemicals Private Limited. In 2008 Henkel acquired the remaining 24% of the company and formed a new company called Henkel CAC

High speed soap finishing line

Henkel India opened a new high speed soap finishing line at Kolkata

Company Renamed Henkel AG & Co. KGaA

After the Henkel Annual General Meeting on April 14, 2008, the Henkel Management AG was appointed the sole personally liable partner of Henkel KGaA. Therefore, the company was renamed Henkel AG & Co. KGaA.

Kasper Rorsted As CEO

On the day of the Annual General Meeting, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lehner was retired and handed over the office of Chairman of the Management Board to Kasper Rorsted. From then, Kasper Rorsted was Chairman of the Henkel Management AG.


Acquisition of National Starch’s Adhesives and Electronic Materials Businesses

In 2008, Henkel took over Akzo Nobel, the adhesives and electronic materials businesses previously owned by National Starch. This made Adhesive Technologies the business unit with the largest share of Henkel’s sales. In the Adhesive Technologies business unit, the acquisition primarily strengthened the areas of Packaging, Wood Adhesives, and Electronics.

Acquisition of National Starch division in India

Henkel CAC acquired National Starch division of ICI India Limited

Consolidation of Henkel India's businesses

In 2011, Schwarzkopf Professional became a part of Henkel Adhesives Technologies India Private Limited.

In August 2011, with an aim to leverage synergies and create efficiencies for Henkel's businesses in India, the Adhesive Technologies SBUs, the Beauty Care business (Schwarzkopf Professional) and corporate functions were moved under one roof, the Head Office at Kesar Solitaire, Navi Mumbai

Laundry & Home Care business sold to Jyothy Laboratories in India

Henkel sold its home care business to Jyothy Laboratories, one of India’s large players in the detergent business

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.

Innovation Centre at Pune (India)

October: Pune Innovation Center was inaugurated

Innovation Centre, Pune

R&D center in Pune, India

Land acquisition for building adhesives manufacturing plant in India

August 2014: Acquisition of land for building India’s largest multi-technology adhesives manufacturing plant at Kurkumbh near Pune

Henkel Family Extend Share-Pooling Agreement

In the beginning of 2014, the Henkel family extended its share-pooling agreement. The agreement was concluded for an indefinite term and can now only be terminated beginning December 31, 2033.

Henkel Announces New 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 Spotless Group operates in the categories of laundry aid, insect control, and household care; the group also hold leading positions in established European markets such as France, Italy, Spain, and the UK.


Henkel also signed an agreement with TSG Consumer Partners, to acquire three US Professional Hair Care Products companies: SexyHair, Alterna, and Kenra. The acquisitions positioned Henkel as one of the leading companies in the world’s Professional Hair Care Products market.


In September 2014, Henkel signed an agreement to acquire The Bergquist Company, a privately-held leading supplier of thermal-management solutions for the electronics industry worldwide. The acquisition strengthened the position of Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business as a global leader.


Opening of Largest Automated Storage Facility

At the Corporate Headquarters in Düsseldorf, Henkel opened its largest automated storage facility. Built on an area the size of two football fields, its ten-rack levels offer storage capacity for more than 25 million packs of laundry and home care products.


New global supply chain organization

In line with the implementation of its Strategy 2016, Henkel continued to standardize production and logistics activities across all business units, and consolidated them with its purchasing operations into a global supply chain organization. The new organization started operations in early November 2014.

Henkel in India

In February 2015, with an aim to offer certified training programs comprising theoretical knowledge and hands-on practical training for the IMEA region professionals, a Henkel Flexible Packaging Academy was set up at Mumbai.

Henkel Flexible Packaging Academy India

Henkel Flexible Packaging Academy India

Joint ventures with Indian companies

On June 18, 2015, Henkel acquired the remaining 49% non-controlling interest in Henkel Chembond Surface Technologies Ltd. from its joint venture partner Chembond Chemicals Ltd, making it a wholly-owned subsidiary of Henkel.

Henkel Teroson India Limited was renamed as Henkel Anand India Private Limited in 2015. It has manufacturing facilities at Gurgaon, Chennai and Parwanoo. It manufactures and supplies adhesives, sealants and NVH products to automotive OEMs in India.

Henkel to build India’s largest adhesives plant

Henkel in India will be setting up the country’s largest adhesives plant at Kurkumbh, near Pune, to localize its product portfolio and reduce imports while bringing the best global technology to India. The groundbreaking ceremony of this site was held in June 2015.

Henkel in India will be setting up the country’s largest adhesives plant at Kurkumbh, near Pune, to localize its product portfolio and reduce imports while bringing the best global technology to India. The groundbreaking ceremony of this site was held in June 2015.

Paul Kirsch (m.), Senior VP, Supply & Operations, Henkel Adhesive Technologies and President Henkel India, Jeremy Hunter (r.), welcomed Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis (l.) and other dignitaries from the Maharashtra government

Paul Kirsch (m.), Senior VP, Supply & Operations, Henkel Adhesive Technologies and President Henkel India, Jeremy Hunter (r.), welcomed Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis (l.) and other dignitaries from the Maharashtra government

Henkel in Australia and New Zealand’s Laundry Market

Henkel has signed an agreement with the Colgate-Palmolive Company to acquire its entire range of laundry detergents and pre-wash brands in Australia and New Zealand. With the acquisition of powder and liquid detergents, as well as pre-wash brands including: Cold Power, Dynamo, Fab, and Sard brands. Due to these acquisitions, Henkel is one of the largest players in the Laundry Care market in the Australia/New Zealand region.

ASK Academy at Mumbai

June: Inauguration of the new ASK Academy at Mumbai

MRO and Acoustic & NVH laboratories at Pune Innovation Center in India

August: Capabilities of Pune Innovation Center expanded to include two dedicated laboratories, one each for Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) and Acoustic & NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness)

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.

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

Effective January 1, 2020, Carsten Knobel is the new CEO of Henkel. Knobel joined Henkel in 1995 and has been on the Management Board since 2012, responsible for Finance, Purchasing and Integrated Business Solutions.