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RB history

For such a fast-paced, entrepreneurial business some are surprised to learn the company’s history spans 150 years of innovation for consumers across the world. With a German and British heritage, RB’s drive for financial performance and social responsibility today can be seen in its deep roots – as shown in this timeline.

1800

1823

Founding of Benckiser by Johann A. Benckiser.
Core business derived from industrial chemicals.

1840

Issac Reckitt rents, then subsequently (in 1848) buys a starch mill in Hull.
Diversifies into other household products; becomes renowned for starch, washing blue and black lead for polishing.

1862

Death of Issac Reckitt aged 70. Business left to three sons.

1880

Mortein launches in Australia.

1886

Reckitt & Sons begins its expansion and opens businesses around the world - firstly Australia.

1888

Reckitt & Sons is launched on the London Stock Exchange.

1894

James Reckitt accept Baronetcy and becomes Sir James Reckitt.

1900

1912

Lehn & Fink Products begins US production of Lysol - originally imported from Germany.

1913

Joint venture set up in South America between Reckitt & Sons and J&J Colman - Atlantis Ltd. So successful that it is extended, in 1921, to cover all trading outside the UK.

In the UK, Reckitt & Sons join the Mason brothers in forming the Chiswick Polish Company. Diversification into other branded household products continues through the war years and the Twenties.

1932

Harpic Lavatory Cleaners bought.

A major breakthrough for Reckitt & Sons, with the decision to market a germicide, Dettol, endorsed by the medical profession.

Dettol launched.

1935

Sanpic disinfectant launched.

1937

Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Dansom Lane, Hull in October.

Steradent business acquired.

1938

Reckitt & Sons merge with J&J Colman to become Reckitt & Colman Ltd.

1943

Air Wick launches in USA.

1953

Finish launches into the automatic dishwashing market in the USA.

1954

The Chiswick Polish Company merges with Reckitt & Colman Ltd.

1956

Benckiser diversifies into consumer goods and industrial cleaning products. In the same year, Benckiser launches Calgon water softener.

1964

Benckiser develops and launches Calgonit Automatic Dishwashing Detergent and Quanto Fabric Softener in 1966.

1965

Gaviscon accidentally discovered during scientific research.

1972

Launch of Vanish Stain Removal Bar.

1982

Benckiser continues its expansion into consumer goods via acquisitions and divestitures and in 1985 acquires St. Marc S.A, France.

1983

Nurofen is the first OTC (over the counter) product to use ibuprofen - the first new OTC analgesic since 1950s.

1985

Reckitt & Colman buys Airwick products.

1988

Benckiser purchases Mira Lanza Spa and Panigal Spa, Italy.

1989

Benckiser acquires S.A. Camp Group, Spain.

1990

Reckitt & Colman acquire Boyle-Midway, the American household products group with brands Woolite, Easy-Off, Sani-Flush, Wizard and Old English.

Benckiser acquires worldwide branded business of Beecham Household Products in US and Canada.

1991

Benckiser begins expansion into Eastern Europe.

1994

Reckitt & Colman acquires Lehn & Fink Products, including Lysol, the famous household disinfectant brand in the USA.

1995

Reckitt & Colman sells the Colman’s food business.

1996

Benckiser continues its expansion into the Baltic countries, Belorussia, China and Israel.

1999

Reckitt & Colman and Benckiser merge to become Reckitt Benckiser – the world No.1 in household cleaning.

2000

2000

In November, RB acquires Tiga Roda - an Indonesian pest control business.

In March, RB acquires Oxy, a leading household business in Korea.

2001

In April, RB disposes of the (non-core) firelighter business.

In August, RB disposes of Dr. Becher, a non-core business.

2002

RB acquires outstanding minority interest in India and Sri Lanka.

2005

Cillit Bang launches in 68 countries in just one year.

2006

RB completes acquisition of Boots Healthcare International for £1,926 million, gaining a new platform for growth in the attractive OTC (over the counter) healthcare market.

2007

Air Wick Freshmatic launches, creating an entirely new Aircare segment.

2007

Vanish hits the world No.1 spot! From it's UK launch in 1999, Vanish becomes market leader in 75% of the 57 countries it now sells in.

2008

RB completes acquisition of Adams Respiratory Therapeutics, Inc., allowing it to enter the USA's over-the-counter market with Mucinex – the clear No.1 cough remedy in the US.

2009

RB launches its new corporate brand identity. Contemporary and bold, it reflects RB's spirit and what RB is all about as a business: 'The Power behind the Powerbrands'

2010

RB completes acquisition of SSL International and adds Durex and Scholl to their list of Powerbrands.

2011

Bart Becht steps down as CEO after over a decade. He is replaced by Rakesh Kapoor.

2012

RB announces new strategy for continued outperformance, along with a new vision and purpose. Our vision is a world where people are healthier and live better. Our purpose is to make a difference by giving people innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes.

2012

RB acquires nutritional supplement and vitamin company Schiff Nutrition.



J A Benckiser circa 1823 (middle), Isaac Reckitt circa 1860s (right)
J A Benckiser circa 1823 (left),
Isaac Reckitt circa 1860s (right)






Lysol circa 1912 and 2009
Lysol circa 1912 and now





Chiswick Headquarters circa 1913
Chiswick Headquarters circa 1913





Dettol then and now
Dettol circa 1933 and now





Press advertising for Steradent circa 1937 (left) and Calgonit Automatic Dishwashing Detergent (right)
Press advertising for Steradent circa 1937 (left) and Calgonit Automatic Dishwashing Detergent (right)





Airwick circa 1980 and 2009
Airwick circa 1980 and now





Woolite circa 1990 and 2009
Woolite circa 1990 and now





Cillit band launched 2005
Cillit Bang launched 2005





Nurofen acquired 2006
Nurofen acquired 2006





Nurofen acquired 2006
Vanish is world No.1 in fabric care





Mucinex acquired 2007
Mucinex acquired 2008





Our new corporate identity 2009
Our new corporate identity 2009





Durex and Scholl Product Group Photo

Durex and Scholl acquired in 2010





RB Corporate Logo 2012

Evolution of our corporate identity 2012
  • Lysol
  • Mucinex
  • Frenchs
  • Airwick
  • Nurofen
  • Vanish
  • Durex
  • Clearasil
  • Dettol
  • Cillet Bang
  • Strepsils
  • Scholl
  • Gaviscon
  • Mortein
  • Woolite
  • Veet
  • harpic
  • Calgon
  • Finish