Swiss quality and tradition for more than 130 years
Foundation of Conservenfabrik Lenzburg, Henckell & Zeiler1886
Foundation of Conservenfabrik Lenzburg, Henckell & Zeiler
Hero was established in 1886 when two friends, Gustav Henckell and Gustav Zeiler, set up the Conservenfabrik Henckell & Zeiler in Lenzburg to process fruit and vegetables. Henckell was an experienced conserve factory employee and Zeiler was a fruit farmer. By the end of the year, they were joined by Karl Roth as a silent partner.
Karl Roth becomes a full partner1889
Karl Roth becomes a full partner
Gustav Zeiler died unexpectedly and was succeeded by Karl Roth. The company was renamed Henckell & Roth.
1910 - 1939
A flourishing business and international expansion1910 - 1939
A flourishing business and international expansion
Between 1910 and 1939, five companies were set up or acquired in Switzerland, and the export business flourished. Subsidiaries were founded in the Netherlands (1914) and Spain (1922). By 1922, there were 31 different types of Hero conserves ranging in size from 500g jars to 55kg oak tubs.
Launch of the Hero brand1910
Launch of the Hero brand
The Hero brand name, derived from the first two letters of the partners' names HEnckell and ROth, was launched in 1910. The brand name letters were also inspired by the shape of tin cans, with the letters H, R, and O resembling their shape.
Quoted on the stock exchange1914
Quoted on the stock exchange
Hero was floated on the Swiss Stock Exchange in 1914.
1940 - 1945
World War II and its consequences for Hero1940 - 1945
World War II and its consequences for Hero
The shortages and scarcity of raw material during the war years affected Hero products. To ensure that supplies continued, Swiss housewives were encouraged to wash and return empty containers for re-use – a sort of recycling process. Due to sugar rationing, Hero developed a conserve with less sugar and a higher fruit content, creating one of Hero’s most popular brands – Hero Delicia, which is still available today. This premium conserve range has 60% fruit content and a lower sugar content than standard conserves.
1946 - 1994
Hero Classics conquer the market1946 - 1994
Hero Classics conquer the market
Hero launched a range of products, including tinned ravioli (1948), fruit juices (1963) and Rösti (1968) which are still on supermarket shelves today and known as the classics.
Hero extended its activities in the baby food category with the launch of Hero Baby in Spain (1985), Hero Foods (UK) Ltd in the UK, with the acquisition of a majority holding of Lindavia Fruchtsaft AG in Germany, and in France with the take-over of Les Verges d’Alsace.
Leading the way1950
Leading the way
Hero is at the forefront in the mechanization of agriculture and innovation in production.
Hero under the ownership of the Oetker Family1995
Hero under the ownership of the Oetker Family
German company Schwartau International GmbH, founded in 1899 and owned by Dr Arend Oetker, acquired a majority stake in Hero in 1995. Until today, the Oetker family are still the main shareholders in the company.
In 1996, Hero entered the North American market through a joint venture with McCormick to form Signature Brands LLC to manufacture food decoration products. Hero sold off its British Rayner subsidiary, producing syrups, sauces and semi-finished goods, its soft drinks and non-Hero branded fruit juices, including Klindworth and Lindavia.
2000 - 2010
An International House of Brands2000 - 2010
An International House of Brands
In 2002, Hero acquired a majority stake in Schwartau. In 2003, it delisted from the Swiss Stock Exchange. Hero expanded into the Middle East and Turkey through the acquisition of the Egyptian jam company Vitrac and the set-up of a joint venture with Ülker Group to produce baby food in Turkey.
Hero also entered the Swiss baby food market by acquiring Wander’s Adapta and Galactina brands, and expanded into Eastern Europe through the purchase of the Sunar trademark in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
In 2005, Hero purchased the Beech-Nut baby food business in the United States and set up a large R&D center for infant nutrition in Spain.
In 2006, the company acquired Semper, the leading baby food manufacturer in Scandinavia, and a year later, added the Friso (today Hero Baby) brand from Friesland Foods to its infant nutrition portfolio. Hero also acquired the Juvela gluten-free business in the UK, strengthening its position in nutritional- products.
Hero expanded into the Russian market, entered the organic baby food sector in the UK through the acquisition of Organix, and the Belgian market through a licensing agreement with Blédina.
In 2009, a new baby food plant was opened in Ankara, Turkey, as part of the joint venture between Hero and Ülker and a marketing partnership with Abbott Nutrition in the USA was established.
In June 2010, Hero started production in the newly built Beech-Nut baby food plant in the US.
New Hero Group HQ inaugurated2011
New Hero Group HQ inaugurated
The building of the Hero Group's new headquarters and a new factory in Lenzburg was completed a year ahead of schedule and right on time for the company's 125th anniversary. Previously, the company had its production facilities and offices right next to the Lenzburg train station.
2012 to date
Focus on core categories2012 to date
Focus on core categories
The Hero Group appointed a new CEO in 2012 – Dutch-national Rob Versloot took over the reins from Peter Amon. Versloot held various positions within Hero before his appointment as CEO.
Following his appointment, Versloot immediately began working to bring more focus on the Group’s core categories and implementing a mission to delight consumers by conserving the goodness of nature. He also started pushing forward plans to bring more alignment and coordination among the Group’s diverse companies.
In 2014, Hero acquired full ownership of the business in Turkey, where all products are now sold under the Hero Baby brand. At the end of 2015, Hero entered into a joint venture with the Brazilian firm Kiviks Marknad, producers of the market leading Queensberry jam. Three years later, the company changed name to Hero Brasil.
In 2018, the Group launched an ambitious initiative to bolster the idea of one strong organization that can take better advantage of synergies with more integration and focus, efforts that are still ongoing today.