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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 commitment to producing top quality, trusted medicines, medical devices, hygiene and other home products has shaped its history of strong financial performance coupled with social responsibility.



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


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.


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


Mortein launches in Australia.


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


Reckitt & Sons is launched on the London Stock Exchange.


James Reckitt accept Baronetcy and becomes Sir James Reckitt.



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


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.


Harpic Lavatory Cleaners bought.

A major breakthrough for Reckitt & Sons, with the decision to market a germicide, Dettol, endorsed by the medical profession, highlighting the company’s scientific rigour and innovation.

Dettol launched.


Sanpic disinfectant launched.


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

Steradent business acquired.


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


Air Wick launches in USA.


Finish launches into the automatic dishwashing market in the USA.


The Chiswick Polish Company merges with Reckitt & Colman Ltd.


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


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


Gaviscon accidentally discovered during scientific research. Innovations in subsequent years will make Gaviscon one of the world’s leading over-the-counter for gastrointestinal related problems.


Launch of Vanish Stain Removal Bar.


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


Nurofen is the first OTC (over-the-counter) product to use ibuprofen - the first new OTC analgesic since 1950s. The company breathed new benefits into a 50-year-old molecule by thinking of the consumer needs rather than focusing only on chemistry.


Reckitt & Colman buys Airwick products.


Benckiser purchases Mira Lanza Spa and Panigal Spa, Italy.


Benckiser acquires S.A. Camp Group, Spain.


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.


Benckiser begins expansion into Eastern Europe.


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


Reckitt & Colman sells the Colman’s food business.


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


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



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

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


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

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


RB acquires outstanding minority interest in India and Sri Lanka.


Cillit Bang launches in 68 countries in just one year.


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.


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


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.


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.


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'


RB completes acquisition of SSL International and adds Durex and Scholl to its list of Powerbrands, fuelling its growth in consumer healthcare.


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


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. Consumer-led research lies at the heart of the success of the company.


RB acquires nutritional supplement and vitamin company Schiff Nutrition, strengthening its position in the growing health and wellness market.

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

RB logo 2014

 A new outlook for 2014
  • Lysol
  • Mucinex
  • Frenchs
  • Airwick
  • Nurofen
  • Vanish
  • Durex
  • Clearasil
  • Dettol
  • Cillet Bang
  • Strepsils
  • Scholl
  • Gaviscon
  • Mortein
  • Woolite
  • Veet
  • harpic
  • Calgon
  • Finish

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