The Reimann Family, worth at least $20 billion as a whole, is one of the richest families in the world. Chances are you regularly use some of the products they either own or have a major stake in. However, you probably don’t know you do because the Reimann Family does all their business through a company called JAB Holding Company. JAB Holding Company owns or has a stake in Airwick, Calvin Klein, Durex, Krispy Kreme, Keurig, Dr.Pepper, Snapple, and many more. These companies are all very culturally relevant in America, so it is funny to realize that someone from Germany is the one pulling all the strings. However, it all adds up when the history and culture of the Reimann Family are understood:
The history of the Reimann family fortune starts in 1823 when Johann Adam Benckiser (JAB) bought a chemical business in Pforzheim, Germany. A couple of years later, Ludwig Reimann married Benckiser’s daughter. In the meantime, Benckiser grew the company exponentially and moved its headquarters to Ludwigshafen. After Benckiser died, Reimann took over the business and started the Reimann business dynasty.
After Reimann, the chemical company was operated by members of the family for a little over a century. The last person in the family to actually work in the chemical operations of the conglomerate was Ludwig’s great-grandson and Reimann’s grandson, Albert Reimann. Albert inherited the company from Ludwig’s grandson in 1952 and used the family wealth to start transitioning the company towards investments in consumer goods. Albert died in 1984 and left the company in even stakes to his nine children. These are the Reimann’s that expanded the company into what we know today.
Five of the children sold their stakes to four of their siblings who are the ones that have grown JAB to the powerful conglomerate that it is now. The brothers Wolfgang, Matthias, Stefan, and Renate now own 95% of the company, each having a net worth of over $4 billion. The brothers essentially split the JAB Holding Company into four major parts.
The first part is a luxury clothing group called JAB Luxury which owns brands such as Jimmy Choo and Bally. The second part is a 70% stake in the international perrfume and makeup company Coty which produces things like Calvin Klein & David Beckham perfume. The third part is an 11% stake in Reckitt Benckiser – a hygiene and health products company the brothers started in 1999 that is now publicly traded. Lastly, they own Jacobs Douwe Egberts, a coffee and tea conglomerate. On top of this they have many stakes in smaller companies and consistently buy out brands to combine with their portfolio companies.
So you might still be wondering, how have I never heard of these guys? This is because of the family codex and policies that were established in the 19th century. The terms are all laid out in Albert Reimann’s will to which each family member has to agree on their 18th birthday. He stated that all of his heirs were never allowed to sell shares of the business to non-family members and that they were to stay out of actually running the businesses themselves. The people that run the whole company are three men: CEO Olivier Goudet, chairman Bart Becht, and senior partner Peter Harf. These three men report to the family four times a year to keep them up-to-date on business deals and to get feedback when they’re looking into a new aquisition. The family also can not speak to media and have never been interviewed.
It is easy to understand why you will never see or hear from the owners of your favorite brands. However, it still leaves an aura of mystery around the whole situation that keeps you wondering about the leadership of the business world. When you look into it, you will realize that pinpointing the owners of a lot of your favorite companies/brands is quite difficult if not impossible. Whether this is good or bad is up for you to decide.