Kao Corporation

Kao Corporation (花王株式会社, Kao Kabushiki-gaisha) is a chemical and cosmetics company headquartered in Nihonbashi-Kayabacho, Chūō, Tokyo, Japan.

Kao Corporation
Public (K.K)
Traded asTYO: 4452
TOPIX Large 70 Component
IndustryPersonal care, Cosmetics
FoundedNihonbashi-Bakurocho, Tokyo, Japan (June 1887 (1887-06))
FounderTomiro Nagase
14-10, Nihonbashi-Kayabacho Itchome, Chūō, Tokyo
Revenue¥1,186,831 million (US$14,273.4 million)
(consolidated, March 2011, 83 yen/US dollar)
¥104,591 million (US$1,257.9 million)
(consolidated, March 2011, 83 yen/US dollar)
¥46,737 million (US$562.1 million)
(consolidated, March 2011, 83 yen/US dollar)
Total assets¥1,022,799 million (US$12,300.6 million)
(consolidated, March 2011, 83 yen/US dollar)
Total equity¥539,564 million (US$6,489.0 million)
(consolidated, March 2011, 83 yen/US dollar)
Number of employees
34,743 (consolidated)
5,924 (non-consolidated)
SubsidiariesKao Customer Marketing Co., Ltd.
Kanebo Cosmetics, Inc.
Kanebo Cosmetics Sales, Inc.
Nivea-Kao Co., Ltd.
Kao (China) Holding Co., Ltd.
Kao Corporation Shanghai
Kao Commercial (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.
Kanebo Cosmetics (China) Co., Ltd.
Kao Chemical Corporation Shanghai
Kao (Hong Kong) Ltd.
KPSS Hong Kong Ltd.
Kao (Taiwan) Corporation
Taiwan Kanebo Cosmetics Co., Ltd.
Kao Vietnam Co., Ltd.
Philippines Kao, Incorporated.
Kao Industrial (Thailand) Co., Ltd.
Kao Commercial (Thailand) Co., Ltd.
Kao (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
Kao Soap (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
Kanebo Cosmetics Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.
Kao Singapore Private Ltd.
KPSS Pte. Ltd.
P.T. Kao Indonesia
P.T. Kao Indonesia Chemicals
Kao Brands Australia Pty Limited
KPSS Australia Pty. Ltd.
KPSS New Zealand Ltd.
Kao Brands Company
KPSS, Inc.
Kao Brands Canada Inc.
KPSS Canada Ltd.
KPSS Finland Oy
KPSS A/S (Austria)
Kao Corporation GmbH
KPSS-Kao Professional Salon Services GmbH
Kao Chemicals GmbH
Kanebo Cosmetics (Europe) Co., Ltd. (Switzerland)
Kao Brands Europe Ltd.
KPSS (UK) Ltd., Great Britain
Molton Brown, Ltd. (UK)
Kao Brands Europe SARL (France)
KPSS France S.A.R.L
Kao Corporation, S.A.
Quimi-Kao, S.A. De C.V. México.


Kao was established in 1887 by Tomiro Nagase as a manufacturer of domestic toiletry soap. Until 1940, they were known as Nihon Yuki Company (日本有機株式会社), changing their name then to Kao Soap Company (花王石鹸株式会社), and finally in 1985 to Kao Corporation.

1960s and 1970s
During the 1960s and the 1970s, the company expanded to Taiwan and ASEAN countries, and also to oleochemicals in order to complement their main business. During this time, the company launched household products, laundry products, and industrial products to expand its revenue base (such as New Beads detergent, Humming fabric softener, Haiter bleach and Magiclean household cleaners).
During the 1980s, its products Merries diapers, Attack detergent, Biore daily skincare and Biore U daily body care, Curel (1986) and Sofina cosmetics were launched. During this time, Kao engaged in several joint ventures (haircare in Europe, Nivea in Japan with Beiersdorf), and acquisitions (Andrew Jergens Company in 1988, Goldwell AG in 1989) in North America and Europe. During this period, Kao also expanded to the manufacture of floppy disks.
1990s and 2000s
During the 1990s and 2000s, the company expanded into China and Vietnam—countries that, during that time, were opening up their economies to the rest of the world. Also, the company expanded into food products with Econa and Healthya. It also continued to acquire businesses (John Frieda[1] in 2002, Molton Brown[2] in 2005 and Kanebo Cosmetics[3] in 2006).
In September 2009 Kao recalled its Econa cooking oil products after it was revealed in the media that one of its ingredients becomes carcinogenic after digestion. According to the media reports, Econa contained from 10 to 182 times the amount of glycidol fatty acid esters found in regular cooking oils. Kao also removed the tokuho, or government "healthy food" designation from the product's label.[4]

Brand ownership

  • Attack
  • Ban
  • Biore
  • Curel
  • Goldwell
  • Guhl
  • Healthya
  • Jergens
  • John Frieda
  • Kanebo
  • Kate
  • KMS
  • Laurier
  • Liese
  • Magiclean
  • MegRhythm
  • Merries
  • Merit
  • Molton Brown
  • Oribe
  • Segreta
  • Sofina
  • Success


  1. "Kao Agrees to Acquire John Frieda Professional Hair Care". Business Wires. 2002-08-01. Archived from the original on 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  2. "Charles Denton ex-CEO Molton Brown". BBC. 2005-07-10. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  3. "Kao purchases Kanebo Cosmetics". Cosmetics Design - Europe. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  4. Brasor, Philip, "Media Mix: Japanese food-safety label protects business foremost, and not people", Japan Times, November 1, 2009, p. 11.
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