Meet Kao

About the company

Making life beautiful. Kao - 'face' in Japanese - literally makes people's lives since 1887 a bit more beautiful with beauty products. The company has spread its wings considerably: it now has 33,000 people active in 30 countries and a huge range of hair cosmetics, facial care and health care products of various own and purchased brands. Think of: Guhl, John Frieda, Goldwell, KMS and Molton Brown. The company is big in Japan and growing in Europe. Their headquarters of the Benelux is situated in Amersfoort.

Making the good even better

The company is known for its innovative products. Christel Grootentraast, general manager Kao Salon Benelux: “We have more than 3,000 researchers worldwide; we not only invest in product development, but also in research. There is a lot of knowledge with which we distinguish ourselves. Innovation is a continuous process at Kao. […] every day we look for improvement of products and ingredients. The Japanese call this Yoki Monozukuri: constantly making the good even better. New products will only hit the market if they are fantastic.”

Kirei: beautiful and clean

Kao is taking many steps in the field of sustainability. Its environmental impact has already diminished considerably in recent years and the organisation is continuing. Barbara Holsink, country manager Mass (focused on the consumer market): “We are producing more and more sustainably and we are finding green solutions. A good example is air-blown refills, a new technology that saves the production of a lot of packaging.” Kao strives to do business in harmony with nature. “We are not only there for external beauty, but we also want to be beautiful on the inside.”

That is why Kao launched its ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) strategy last year: the Kirei Lifestyle Plan, with which the organisation encourages consumers to implement sustainable lifestyle changes. The Japanese word Kirei describes what is beautiful, clean and well-ordered. "We produce everything according to that vision. CO2 reduction and zero waste are currently our main objectives.” Since the launch of this new sustainability policy, the headquarters of Kao's ESG division has been located in Tokyo. "We believe that ESG should be fully embedded in our business approach." The company does not do this alone. “We work together with universities, experts and industry partners to develop ESG-driven innovations.”

Centrally-located in Amersfoort

Amersfoort has been home to Kao Benelux since 2014. Holsink & Grootentraast: “We chose this office very deliberately. […] Amersfoort has a beautiful central location. The accessibility is also excellent for foreign delegations, which we receive regularly. They are in Amersfoort from Schiphol in no time. Others come with the ICE from Frankfurt, which stops in Utrecht. Our office is very easily accessible by public transport. […] Also a plus: there are many roads in the area, so from Amersfoort you can go in different directions.”

Read the complete interview on the Amersfoort business website (in Dutch).