Case Study

Henkel: Shareholders with a face

8 pages
December 2013
Reference: IMD-3-2362

Düsseldorf, 18 September 2009. Henkel had a new face. Surprisingly, the nomination of Germany’s first female Chairwoman of a DAX-quoted company was at one of the old family-controlled industrial corporations, often considered as conservative and traditional. The nomination of Simone Bagel-Trah (5th generation, 1969) represented a cultural change for the Henkel corporation. Besides being a woman, she was more than 30 years younger than her predecessor and a mother of two children. Simone, a member of the Henkel family, the majority shareholder of the group, had been carefully selected for this important role. She had a solid track record as a scientist, had started up her first business just a couple of years previously and had been involved in the family management and governance for many years. Fritz Henkel founded the business in 1876, but 133 years later Henkel AG & Co. KGaA was anything but old-fashioned, slow or conservative. It had become a €14 billion multinational that competed on global markets with players such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever, and it operated around 200 production sites globally, split over three separate business units: Laundry & Home Care, Beauty Care and Adhesive Technologies. Henkel was well regarded for its innovativeness, solid sales performance and brand leadership. Nevertheless, the company had the image of a “typical German and traditional family business” and was less profitable than its international industry peers. In 2008 Kasper Rorsted (born 1962) was appointed new CEO of Henkel and announced an ambitious four-year plan to substantially improve the company’s profitability and to instill a stronger performance culture. Simone’s predecessor, Albrecht Woeste (4th generation, 1935), had steered the family interests for nearly 20 years. Taking the organization to the next level and creating a “winning culture” became part of Simone and Kasper’s shared goal and vision. What would it take for them to become a winning team in leading Henkel into a future of sustainable growth?

Learning Objective

Family business branding and positioning; Family business governance and stakeholder management; Strategic communications.

Branding, Brand Building, Brand Marketing, Corporate Communication, Stakeholder, Stakeholder Relations, Chairman
Europe, Germany
Henkel, Consumer Goods, Consumer Goods, Household Cleaners
Field Research
© 2013
Available Languages
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