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IndustryConsumer goods
Founded1880; 141 years ago (1880)
FoundersFranz Ströher
HeadquartersGeneva, Switzerland
Area served
Key people
Annie Young-Scrivner (CEO)
ProductsHair care
ParentCoty, Inc.[1]

Wella AG is a major German hair care company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Founded in 1880 by Franz Ströher, it specializes in hair care, styling and colorants sold to individuals as well as hairdressers and was controlled by Procter & Gamble from 2003 until it was sold to Coty, Inc. in 2015 along with some 40 other P&G brands.[1] On Dec 1st, 2020 Coty completed sale of Wella stake to KKR for $2.5bn in cash whilst retaining 40% stake in the standalone company.


A 1971 Wella Magazine ad in Persian, Zan-e Rooz.


Wella was founded in 1880 by Franz Ströher, a hairdresser from Saxony, Eastern Germany. The company originally made tulles, the base used for making wigs. In 1890, he invented the Tullemoid Waterproof, a technique that allowed the scalp to breathe. In 1894, he opened his first factory in Rothenkirchen, Germany and his sons Karl and George Ströher joined the business soon after.

In 1924, the Ströhers registered the name Wella at the German patent office. As wigs and hairpieces fell out of fashion, the company turned to permanent wave products; the name Wella was taken from Dauerwellapparat, meaning "permanent wave device" in German. In 1927, they introduced the first perming appliance and supplied it to salons. In the 1930s Wella developed the first hair dryers with built-in motors and movable tubes that allowed head movement during the drying process. Also in the 1930s, Wella introduced Wella Junior, a portable perming machine.

Nazi Germany and Cold War era[edit]

The company suffered under the National Socialist regime due to the Nazi's economic policy and their restrictions on raw-material supplies, along with wartime conditions. As Freemasons, the Ströher brothers were actively opposed to National Socialism. During the Second World War, the Welle plant in Apolda was used to manufacture ventilation systems and equipment for submarines, no longer producing their permanent wave machines and hair dryers.[2]

After World War II, the German Democratic Republic dismantled the Wella plant in Apolda as part of the reparations plan enacted by the Soviet Union. The plant in Rothenkirchen was expropriated and renamed VEB Londa, becoming communal state property under the Volkseigener Betrieb. The Ströher family and some members of staff decided to start the business again from scratch on a smaller scale in Hünfeld, Osthessen under the name Ondal GmbH. Production began again in 1946 with the new business being registered as Wella AG in 1950 with the central management of the company located in Darmstadt, Hessen in West Germany. Throughout the 50s and 60s the company followed an aggressive campaign in international markets within developing countries such as Chile, Brazil, the Asian and Pacific territories as well as various parts of Africa. After the reunification of Germany, in February 1990 the Rothenkirchen plant was reintegrated into Wella, forming a joint venture with Londa to produce and market hairdressing products throughout Europe.[2]

In 1950, Wella introduced Koleston, the first hair balm designed to protect and nourish hair. In 1954, Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor appeared in Koleston advertising.

In the 1960s, the company launched Wella Privat, a salon-exclusive product range that let customers take professional-style products home for the first time. In the early 1970s, Wella introduced Perform a new perm product that allowed hairdressers to create Afro style looks. In 1972 they released Wella Balsam, the first shampoo specifically produced for retail sales. The advertising campaign featured the stars of TV show Charlie's Angels: Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd. Wella also launched For Men, their first ever product line exclusively for men.

Post German unification[edit]

In 1995, Wella re-launched the Koleston line as Koleston Perfect. The new product included natural ingredients including fruit wax. 2002 saw the launch of Wella TrendVision, an annual presentation of Wella's haute couture hair collections. The event is now known as the International TrendVision Award, or ITVA: a global hairdressing competition.

In 2003, Wella was acquired by Procter & Gamble (P&G), purchasing 77.6% of the company for $3.4 billion and paying a total of $5.7 billion including shares,[3] further expanding the group's beauty portfolio across Eastern and Western Europe, and Latin America.[citation needed]

Josh Wood became a Global Wella Professionals Colour Ambassador in January 2008 and in 2010 took on the full-time role as Wella Professionals’ Global Creative Director of Colour.[4] Eugene Souleiman currently serves as Global Creative Director for Wella Professionals.[4]

Wella founded Making Waves in 2011 – a programme that teaches hairdressing and life skills to disadvantaged young people. The program started in Brazil and has since expanded to include Romania, Cambodia, and Vietnam and has trained over 44,800 people.[5]

In 2014, Wella patented a new molecule called ME+.[6] This molecule is a substitute for PPD, also known as p-phenylenediamine, and PTD or para-toluenediamine which are present in most colouring products to fix the colour. PPD and PTD been known to cause mild to severe allergic reactions.[7] The ME+ molecule is used in the Wella Professionals colour brand Koleston Perfect Innosense, which was the first permanent colour product to be approved by the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF). As of 2019 the ME+ molecule is now used in the complete Wella Professionals Koleston Perfect line.

Coty Inc. announced in 2015 that they would be buying P&G for 12.5 Billion[8] and finished the merger in October 2016.[9] Bart Becht, former Coty Chairman and Chief Executive,[10] stated that the company would take over all of P&G's Wella management teams.

In 2020, the investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) announced a 60% acquisition of Wella from Coty, appointing Annie Young-Scrivner, the current CEO of Godiva Chocolatier, as the new CEO of the company.[11] KKR, valuing Coty's Professional and Retail hair business, included are Wella, Clairol, OPI, and the ghd brands (placed together under the "Wella" moniker), at $4.3 billion, will be investing $1 billion directly as deleveragement alongside $2.5 billion in net cash proceeds when the Wella deal is closed, expected to be within the next six to nine months. The Wella business will issue around $1 billion of debt after the closing of the deal, distributing the proceeds to its shareholders.[12]


Date Publication & Award Category Brand & Product Scope
April 2012 Total Beauty 2012 Beauty Awards Hair Gel/Rising Star Editor's Pick Wella Professionals North America
March 2016 behindthechair.com Stylist Choice Awards 2016 Favorite Overall Professional Products Company Wella Professionals North America
March 2016 behindthechair.com Stylist Choice Awards 2016 Favorite Lightener For Foil Highlights Wella Professionals Blondor North America
March 2016 behindthechair.com Stylist Choice Awards 2016 Favorite Lightener For Balayage and Hand-Painted Highlights Winner Wella Professionals Blondor Freelights North America


  1. ^ a b P&G confirms names of all 43 brands sold to Coty (article date July 13, 2016)
  2. ^ a b International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 48. St. James Press. 2003.
  3. ^ Deutsch, Claudia H. (2003-03-19). "P.&G. Is Acquiring Wella, German Hair Care Company (Published 2003)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  4. ^ a b "The Wella Professionals Heritage". www.wella.com.
  5. ^ "Unicef Making Waves Program | Wella Professionals". www.wella.com. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  6. ^ "The Wella Professionals Heritage". www.wella.com. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  7. ^ Rust, Rene. "Latest Innovations" (PDF). pg.com.
  8. ^ Cavale, Astrid Wendlandt, Siddharth (2015-07-09). "Coty buying P&G beauty business for $12.5 billion". Reuters. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  9. ^ "Coty Completes Merger with P&G Specialty Beauty Business". www.businesswire.com. 2016-10-03. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  10. ^ "JAB chair Bart Becht quits in split with partners". www.ft.com. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  11. ^ "Annie Young-Scrivner appointed as CEO of Wella Company". Premium Beauty News. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  12. ^ "Coty Announces Strategic Transformation and Definitive Agreement with KKR on Wella". www.businesswire.com. 2020-06-01. Retrieved 2020-10-23.

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