Handelsblatt Exclusive

Consumer Group Henkel Shrugs Off Trump Threat

Hans Van Bylen
Henkel CEO Hans Van Bylen, at the helm since May 2016, does not feel threatened by Mr. Trump's protectionist rhetoric. Source: dpa/Rolf Vennenbernd

German consumer-goods conglomerate Henkel does not fear any repercussions from the new U.S. administration under President Donald Trump, its chief executive said in an exclusive interview.

“I hope that the new government will provide the right incentives for growth,” Hans Van Bylen told Handelsblatt. “Trade barriers would have little direct impact on our business, however, as the production of consumer goods and adhesives is very localized.”

German Henkel, the consumer goods group known for its washing powder Persil, beauty line Schwarzkopf and adhesives business Loctite, generates a fourth of its revenues in the United States.

While Mr. Van Bylen said he was confident about Henkel’s growth strategy in the United States, he also provided a word of caution in the direction of the new U.S. government. “Protectionist measures would be damaging to global trade,” he said. “Free trade is the basis for growth prosperity after all – also in the U.S.”

The company, which posted revenues of around €20 billion in 2016, last summer acquired U.S. laundry detergent maker Sun, the producer of the famous Snuggle brand, in a €3.2-billion deal.

The Düsseldorf-based group employs 8,000 people at 50 sites throughout the United States. It is in the process of combining its U.S. businesses and will soon open its American consumer goods headquarters near New York.

Read the full interview in Handelsblatt Global.