Kao Brands Company History Timeline

1887

Kao was founded in June 1887.

Founded in 1887 A mission to enrich people’s lives

1887 Nagase starts Nagase Shoten, a Western sundry goods dealer that would later become Kao.

Learn about the history of Kao Group companies worldwide from the founding of the corporation in 1887 to the present day.

Public Company Incorporated: 1887 as Kao Soap Company, Ltd.Employees: 6,768Sales: ¥620.43 billion (US$4.32 billion)Stock Exchanges: Tokyo Osaka

1890

1890 Kao Sekken (Kao Soap) is launched in Japan.

With the launch in 1890 of this new product was the dawn of the Japanese toiletries market.

Learn about how Kao products have contributed to people's lives beginning with the launch of Kao Sekken in 1890.

The corporate name "Kao" originated with the company's first product, Kao Sekken quality toilet soap launched in 1890.

1937

The laboratory also made new lifestyle suggestions for Japanese consumers through its Science of Housework Magazine (1937). The consumer feedback obtained through the direct interactions and meetings were incorporated into company activities.

1954

1954 Kao begins consumer consultations.

1964

Kao Industrial (Thailand) Co., Ltd. and Taiwan–Kao Company, LTd. are established in 1964 as Kao’s first overseas companies.

1971

1971 Kao establishes the Kao Life Science Laboratory, which specialized in consumer needs.

In 1971 Yoshio Maruta became president of Kao and continued the company's emphasis on R&D. Maruta, holder of a doctorate in chemical engineering and 16 patents, invented a process for producing aircraft lubricant from vegetable oil during World War II, when Japanese supplies of petroleum were low.

1973

Malaysia Kao Company (Private) Ltd. is established in Singapore. (The company is renamed Kao (Singapore) Private Ltd. in 1973.)

1976

Research and development opens up new fields Kao established its Research and Development Division in 1976 to emphasize R&D as its business foundation.

1978

1978 Kao introduces the Consumer Consultation Information System (called the ECHO System). Inquiries, complaints, and other customer feedback were compiled in a database to create faster customer response.

(Left) Research on the biological function of skin (Tochigi Research Laboratories, established in 1978) (Cener) R&D meeting (Right) Open office system to encourage interaction

1979

Goto, a chemical engineer, joined the company in November 1979 as a manager of a plant in Thailand.

1980

1980s Expansion into Europe and North America Premium beauty brands join the Kao Group Starting around 1980, high-end beauty brands that had established a presence in Europe and the United States joined the Kao Group.

1981

The three United States operating companies—Andrew Jergens, High Point Chemical, and Kao Infosystems—became direct subsidiaries of Kao itself. As a result, the company recorded its first year-to-year decline in group net profits since Kao started keeping records of consolidated earnings in 1981.

1982

In 1982 Kao entered the cosmetics market for the first time with its Sofina line of cosmetics, and rapidly advanced to the number two position in the Japanese cosmetic market, trailing only Shiseido Company, Limited.

1983

In 1983 the company’s Merries brand of disposable diapers far outsold Procter & Gamble’s in Japan, because Kao had developed a highly absorbent polymer that reduced diaper rash.

In 1983 the company’s Merries brand of disposable diapers far outsold Procter & Gamble’s in Japan, because Kao had developed a highly absorbant polymer that reduced diaper rash.

1985

In 1985, Kao Soap Co., Ltd. is renamed Kao Corporation.

Bhd. is established 1985 Kao acquires a stake in P.T. Dino Indonesia Industrial Ltd.

Having expanded well beyond just soap, the company changed its name to simply Kao Corporation in 1985.

A research project on face powders resulted in the discovery of a dispersing system that was ideal for the management of magnetic particles spread over floppy discs, and Kao in 1985 established a United States subsidiary called Kao Infosystems Company to manufacture such discs.

1986

Guhl Kosmetik is established in West Germany as a joint venture with Beiersdorf AG. (The company is renamed Guhl Ikebana GmbH in 1986.) The company develops its hair care business in Europe.

1987

1987 – Concentrated laundry detergent In 1987, Kao launches Attack, a concentrated laundry detergent offering a powerful cleaning solution, which requires only a small amount.

One of Kao's most successful introductions ever, Attack concentrated laundry detergent, came in 1987.

High Point Chemical Corporation, a specialty chemical company based in North Carolina that was acquired in 1987, supplied the raw materials for the Jergens toiletry and skin-care products.

1988

In 1988 Kao acquired the Andrew Jergens Company, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and placed it within its main United States subsidiary, Kao Corporation of America.

An Inexhaustible Spring: Research and Development Activities at Kao, Tokyo: Kao Corporation, 1988.

In 1988 Kao acquired the Andrew Jergens Company, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1989

A move into Germany was made in 1989 when Kao purchased a 75 percent interest in Goldwell GmbH, a manufacturer and marketer of hair-care and beauty products through professional hairdressers around the world.

Jergens, for instance, in 1989 introduced a line of bath tablets called ActiBath in an attempt to adapt for the United States market a Kao product extremely popular in Japan.

The move into Germany was made in 1989 when Kao purchased a 75% interest in Goldwell, a company that sells hair-care and beauty products through professional hairdressers around the world.

1990

With the acquisition of West Coast Telecom in Portland, Oregon; Sentinel Technologies in Hyannis, Massachusetts; and the completion of a $60 million plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Kao Infosystems became in 1990 the largest North American maker of 3.5-inch floppy discs.

1991

In 1991, Kao launches the first shampoo bottle featuring notches The notches allow you to differentiate between bottles of shampoo and conditioner, even if your eyes are closed or you are visually impaired.

1991 – Developed refill packs Kao develops refill packs and refillable products so that the original product containers can be reused.

Kao Industrial (Thailand) Co., Ltd. is established as Kao's first company outside Japan.Taiwan-Kao Company, Ltd. is established. (The company is renamed Kao (Taiwan) Corporation in 1991.)

Kitt Siam (Thailand) Co., Ltd. is established. (The company is renamed Kao Commercial (Thailand) Co., Ltd. in 1991.)

1994

Friedland, Jonathan, “Lean and Clean: Japan’s Kao Defies Taboos and Recession,” Far Eastern Economic Review, May 19, 1994, pp.50-51.

After moving up Kao's chemicals management ladder, Goto became general manager of the chemical business division and purchasing division in July 1994.

After moving up Kao’s chemicals management ladder, Goto became general manager of the chemical business division and purchasing division in July 1994.

1996

For the fiscal year ending in March 1996, Kao Corporation posted its 16th straight year of increased revenues and increased pretax profits.

Kao found further success on the new product front with the April 1996 introduction in Japan of the Bioré Pore Pack, a facial skin blemish remover whose sales totaled ¥10 billion ($75 million) in its first year.

Kao acquires Chemische Fabrik Chem-Y GmbH (Germany). (The company is renamed Kao Chemicals GmbH in 1996.)

By 1996 Kao Infosystems was still losing money.

1997

In June 1997 Takuya Goto moved into the Kao presidency, taking over for Fumikatsu Tokiwa who became chairman.

Kao-Quaker Co., Ltd. is established as a joint venture with Quaker Oats Company (United States) to manufacture and sell furan resin for use with casting sand. (The new company becomes a wholly owned Kao subsidiary in 1997.)

When these facial strips reached the United States market in the summer of 1997 through the Andrew Jergens subsidiary, they quickly became the most popular product in their category, with sales of $55 million in just the first nine months following their launch.

1998

In early 1998 the company cut its production of floppy disks in half and also liquidated its United States holding company, Kao Corporation of America.

In connection with these moves, Kao posted a special loss of ¥11.62 billion ($88.5 million) for fiscal 1998.

1999

Kao acquires High Point Chemical Corporation (United States). (The company is reorganized as Kao Chemicals Americas Corporation, High Point Textile Auxiliaries LLC, and Kao Specialties Americas LLC in 1999.) Sinor-Kao S.A. and Molins-Kao S.A. merge to form Kao Corporation S.A. (Spain).

2000

In September 2000 the Ban line of roll-on and stick antiperspirants and deodorants was acquired from Chattem, Inc. for $166.5 million.

2000 – Kao Creating Forests for Everyone Project Kao conducts activities in Japan to protect local green spaces, cultivate them, and create opportunities for children to use them to play and experience the nature in their community.

2001

The product, touted to prevent the development of fat deposits, became a smash hit, despite a premium price tag, with sales reaching ¥10.4 billion ($83.9 million) by 2001.

In between these deals, Kao lost out in the bidding in mid-2001 for the Clairol hair-care business, which was being auctioned by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

In 2001 four core products were selected for targeting to this market: face cleanser, feminine hygiene products, shampoos, and laundry detergent.

2002

"Goto Steering Kao for Future Growth," Nikkei Report, June 10, 2002.

Jergens next acquired John Frieda Professional Hair Care, Inc. in September 2002 for $450 million, Kao's largest acquisition yet.

"Kao Crushes Rivals by Selling Premium Products, Shunning Price War," Nikkei Report, October 22, 2002.

2003

In May 2003 Kao strengthened its chemicals business through the purchase of the aroma and fragrance operations of Cognis Deutschland GmbH & Co.

Following up on the success of its Econa oil, Kao in May 2003 launched Healthya Green Tea, whose high levels of tea catechin were said to reduce body fat.

Kao acquires Goldwell AG (West Germany). (The company is renamed KPSS-Kao Professional Salon Services GmbH*2 in 2003.)

2004

In September 2004, for example, Kao pursued two additional segments of the Japanese cosmetics market.

Kao acquires the Andrew Jergens Company (United States). (The company is renamed Kao Brands Company*1 in 2004.) Fatty Chemical (Malaysia) Sdn.

Kao acquires John Frieda Professional Hair Care, Inc., a premium hair care product manufacturer with bases in the United States and U.K. (The company is merged into Kao Brands Company*1 in 2004.) Kao (China) Holding Co., Ltd. is established in China.

Nationwide distribution of the oil began in the United States in 2004, under the brand name Enova and through a joint venture with Archer Daniels Midland Company.

Then in 2004 Kao began selling Sofina cosmetics products in China.

In mid-2004 Goto ended his tenure as Kao president and CEO, shifting into the nonexecutive chairman slot.

Kao and Kanebo had two years earlier entered advanced discussions about a Kao takeover of the cosmetics business, but the deal fell through in early 2004.

2005

"Kao, Kanebo Alliance Threatens Shiseido Dominance," Nikkei Report, December 19, 2005.

2009

2009 Conserving water and electricity during product use: Kao launches Attack Neo, an ultra-concentrated liquid laundry detergent Kao introduces a laundry detergent with powerful cleaning results, as well as an improved ability to be easily rinsed away.

2012

2012 – Environmental protection activities in China In cooperation with the environmental activities of the Chinese government, Kao is raising awareness for conserving water and the importance of water resources.

2013

Acquisition of premium hair care products factory responsible for Goldwell products, to be renamed Kao Manufacturing Germany GmbH in 2013.

2014

A survey revealed that many Indonesian people washed their clothes by hand and that the local water was often hard, which makes it more difficult to remove stains. For example, Kao launched Attack Jaz1 in Indonesia in 2014.

2015

Ehime Sanitary Products Co., Ltd. is established. (The company is renamed Kao Sanitary Products Ehime Co., Ltd. in 2015.)

2017

2017 Kao receives around 220,000 consumer consultations per year in Japan.

2021

Sworsky, Mary; Salamie, David "Kao Corporation ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 16, 2021). https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/kao-corporation

Sworsky, Mary; Salamie, David "Kao Corporation ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved April 16, 2021 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/kao-corporation

"Kao Corporation ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 16, 2021). https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/kao-corporation-1

"Kao Corporation ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved April 16, 2021 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/kao-corporation-1

"Kao Corporation ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 16, 2021). https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/kao-corporation-0

"Kao Corporation ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved April 16, 2021 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/kao-corporation-0

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