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A good face to a bad game: Henkel CEO Carsten Knobel is struggling with declining earnings and weak margins

Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa

Persil manufacturer Henkel has announced further price increases. In the case of consumer goods, increases are necessary this year, said CEO Carsten Knobel (54) of the "Rheinische Post". Price negotiations with retail chains are not easy. "It can also happen that individual products are no longer delivered by us if no agreement is reached." The manager referred to commodity and energy prices. These increased by three billion euros for Henkel in 2021 and 2022. "This has put a significant strain on our profit margin – despite all the cost-cutting efforts."

For months, brand manufacturers and retailers have been arguing about prices. In some cases, certain products have disappeared from the shelves. Edeka boss Markus Mosa (55) had recently called on the brand industry "not to continue to artificially drive up inflation." The "greed" of the international brand owners is not yet abating, although a number of raw materials, for example for detergents, but also wheat, oils and fats have become cheaper again. The central bankers of the European Central Bank are now also discussing so-called "greedflation", the inflation of greed on the corporate side. However, the "price pope" Hermann Simon (76) considers the thesis of profit-driven inflation to be absurd.

The group, which is also behind brands such as Spee, Pritt and Schwarzkopf, came through the Corona crisis much worse than other consumer goods manufacturers such as Hamburg's archrival Beiersdorf. The Russian war of aggression exacerbated the situation. Last year, only a net profit of 1.2 billion euros was stuck, almost a quarter less than in 2021.

Knobel has reacted with a large-scale restructuring and is merging the cosmetics division (Schwarzkopf, Syoss, Dial) with the detergent business (Persil, Pril). But the responsible board member Wolfgang König (51) is distracted and has to take care of the US business after the departure of Alan Wolpert.

Job cuts should also help, Knobel had announced last year the reduction of 2000 jobs. "We have already found individual solutions for more than 1300 of the affected positions, including the 300 jobs in Germany," Knobel said.