Reckitt Benckiser Pharma
Reckitt Benckiser Pharma
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Johann Benckiser founded a business in Pforzheim, Germany in 1823. Its core business was industrial chemicals. Ludwig Reimann, a chemist, joined the business in 1828 and married Benckiser’s daughter. Benckiser died in 1851 and the business came under Reimann’s ownership. Reimann opened a new chemical plant and, in 1858, moved it to Ludwigshafen. Under Reimann’s descendants the business grew rapidly in the latter half of the 20th century: it acquired Coty, Inc., a North American beauty products manufacturer, in 1992. Benckiser’s other products included Vanish and Cillit Bang. It went public in 1997.
Reckitt & Sons started in 1840 when Isaac Reckitt rented a starch mill in Hull, England. He diversified into other household products and after his death in 1862, the business passed to his three sons. In 1886, Reckitt opened its first overseas business in Australia. The firm was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1888. Harpic Lavatory Cleaners was acquired in 1932, and that same year, Dettol was launched.
In 1938, Reckitt & Sons merged with J. & J. Colman, which had been founded in 1814 when Jeremiah Colman began milling flour and mustard in Norwich, England, to become Reckitt & Colman Ltd. The company made several acquisitions, including the Airwick and Carpet Fresh brands (1985), the Boyle-Midway division of American Home Products (1990), and the Lehn & Fink division of Sterling Drug, maker of Lysol disinfectant (1994). The Lehn & Fink purchase doubled Reckitt & Colman’s American business in one stroke. It acquired several brands from DowBrands in 1998.
Reckitt & Colman sold the Colman’s food business in 1995.
1999 to present
The company was formed by a merger between Britain’s Reckitt & Colman plc and the Dutch company Benckiser NV in December 1999. Bart Becht became CEO of the new company and has been credited for its transformation, focusing on core brands and improving efficiency in the supply chain. The new management team’s strategy of “innovation marketing” – a combination of increased marketing spend and product innovation, focusing on consumer needs – has been linked to the company’s ongoing success. For example, in 2008, the company’s “rapid succession of well publicised new product variants” were credited for helping them “to capture shoppers’ imagination”. Business Week has also noted that “40% of Reckitt Benckiser’s $10.5 billion in 2007 revenues came from products launched within the previous three years.”
In October 2005, Reckitt purchased the over-the-counter drugs manufacturing business of Boots, Boots Healthcare International, for £1.9 billion. The three main brands acquired were Nurofen’s analgesics, Strepsils sore throat lozenges, and Clearasil anti-acne treatments. In January 2008, Reckitt acquired Adams Respiratory Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company, for $2.3 billion; one of the major brands acquired was Mucinex. In July 2010, Reckitt bought SSL International, the makers of Durex condoms and Scholl’s footcare products, in a £2.5 billion deal.
In January 2011, Reckitt purchased Combe’s cold remedy/skin care business. In September 2011, Bart Becht retired as CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, being replaced by executive vice-president of Category Development, Rakesh Kapoor, who had played a key role in recent acquisitions.
On 27 August 2011, Reckitt recalled all remaining stock of its major analgesic product, Nurofen Plus, after packs were found to contain an antipsychotic drug. It turned out that this was the work of a codeine addict who had been stealing the pills and replacing them with his anti psychotic medication.
In November 2012, Reckitt acquired Schiff Nutrition, a Salt Lake City-based manufacturer of vitamins and nutritional supplements including Digestive Advantage, MegaRed, Airborne, and Move Free, for US$1.4 billion (£877 million). In December 2014, Reckitt spun off its speciality pharmaceuticals business, which produces Suboxone (an opioid withdrawal medication), into a separate company named Indivior.
In 2014, Reckitt Benckiser dropped its full name in favour of the RB brand. According to Kapoor, the old name was “a bit of a mouthful” and the name change would make life easier.’
In February 2017, the company bid $16.7 billion for the American infant formula maker Mead Johnson. In February 2017, Reckitt Benckiser announced it had bought Mead Johnson for $16.6 billion. To effect the transaction, Reckitt Benckiser incorporated a subsidiary in Delaware into which Mead Johnson Nutrition would be transferred, with Mead Johnson Nutrition being the sole surviving entity at completion. Following the acquisition of Mead Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser split its business into two divisions: consumer healthcare, and home and hygiene. While some expert analysts viewed this move as a precursor to a possible sale of the home division, Kapoor said that it was only to improve the performance of each of the divisions.
In July 2017, McCormick acquired Reckitt’s food brands, including French’s Mustard & Frank’s RedHot, for $4.2 billion, subject to regulatory approval.
Kapoor retired in September 2019 and was replaced by Laxman Narasimhan, PepsiCo’s global chief commercial officer.
In March 2021, the company rebranded from RB to Reckitt – including a new logo and visual identity as a next step in delivering on the strategic purpose of the company.