Our Heritage

Our purpose from the beginning

P&G was founded in the US in 1837 by two men who met by chance. William Procter and James Gamble were from England and Ireland respectively and were on separate journeys through the United States when the challenges of travel led both of them to Cincinnati. They might never have met had they not married sisters – Olivia and Elizabeth Norris – whose father convinced them to become business partners and In 1837, a humble but bold new enterprise called Procter & Gamble was born. What began as a small, family-oriented soap and candle company grew and thrived, inspired by P&G’s Purpose of providing products and services of superior quality and value.

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Our simple purpose has enabled us to become one of the world’s leading consumer products companies – and will continue to guide us as we seek to improve lives now and for generations to come.

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Our heritage in the UK and Ireland

In 1838 the Gateshead candle and soap works (a partnership between H Hedley and J Greene) expanded and a further soap works in City Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne was established. Twenty three years later, Thomas, the son of H Hedley bought out John Greene & Co and the Newcastle Soap Works was renamed ‘City Soap Works’ where the manufacture and distribution of candles and soap products continued. The Hedley family business became a public company in 1898 and was re-named Thomas Hedley & Co Ltd at the same time. Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble in the US decided to establish their first overseas (European) subsidiary and acquired Thomas Hedley & Co Ltd in 1930. The company changed its name to Procter & Gamble in 1962.


P&G Moments

The power of P&G’s Purpose is the one factor above all others that has contributed to the Company’s long heritage of growth. This collection of moments in our history explores how, from the very beginning, P&Gers have been in touch, in the lead and improving lives every day. Our Purpose is an essential part of who we are, who we have been, and who we will be for generations to come.


In Touch

At P&G, we work hard to stay in touch with the people
who use our products, with the external partners who
help us fulfill P&G’s purpose and with one another.

1924
1924

P&G becomes the first company to conduct deliberate, data-based market research with consumers. This forward-thinking approach enables us to improve consumer understanding, anticipate consumer needs and respond with products that improve their everyday life.

1930
1930

P&G is the first business to advertise direct to consumers on a national level with the first TV ad for the Ivory soap brand in 1939. P&G is also responsible for the concept of the “soap opera” as the first sponsor of a radio drama.

1941
1941

P&G becomes one of the first companies to formally respond to consumer correspondence by establishing our Consumer Relations department. The addition of free phone numbers in 1973 and email in the 1980s further enhance consumers’ ability to contact us and keep the consumer at the heart of all we do.

In The Lead

P&G is committed to being a leader. We want our brands
to lead their categories. We want our Company to be a
leader in our industry and our communities. And we want
P&G to be among the best places to work.

1940
1940

P&G’s Manufacturing plant in London, West Thurrock started production of laundry soap powder. The first in the world to produce soap by a hydrolyzer process – this reduced the time required for soap-making from days to hours.

1961
1961

P&G answers the age-old need to reduce leaks, mess and rashes caused by wetness of cloth baby nappies by introducing Pampers, the first affordable, successful disposable nappy. Today, more babies around the globe experience the comfort and dryness of Pampers than any other nappy brand.

1985
1985

P&G acquires Richardson-Vicks, maker of personal healthcare products including Pantene, Olay and Vicks product lines.

1991
1991

P&G acquires Max Factor.

2001
2001

P&G acquires Clairol.

2003
2003

P&G acquires Wella.

2005
2005

P&G acquires Gillette.

Improving Lives Every Day

Everything we do should always be about improving the
lives of the world’s consumers and communities in which
we live and work, now and for generations to come.

1915
1915

The founder’s son, James N. Gamble, helps create the first coordinated community campaign for charities. That charitable organization, known today as The United Way, is the leading community-based fund-raiser in the United States.

1952
1952

P&G establishes the Procter & Gamble Fund to coordinate the distribution of money globally to charitable organizations in communities where we have a concentration of employees. Today the Fund, through its corporate philanthropy programme Live, Learn and Thrive™, works to improve the lives of more than 50 million children around the world each year.

2005
2005

P&G launches a partnership between the Pampers brand and UNICEF to eliminate maternal and neo-natal tetanus in the developing world. Through a simple one-pack=one vaccine mechanic, P&G, together with UNICEF and our Pampers consumers all over the world, are making a difference in people’s lives who need it most. By 2015, we aim to completely eliminate this “silent killer” in the developing world.

2006
2006

To address the global crisis of unsafe drinking water, P&G creates the Children’s Safe Drinking Water programme, which uses P&G’s unique PUR water purification sachets. This programme reflects the company’s commitment to doing the right thing for the long term, and is improving life in some of the poorest countries in the world.

2008
2008

P&G launches its breakthrough laundry detergent format, Ariel Excel Gel - a highly compacted detergent designed to clean brilliantly at 15ºc. As well as packaging, transport and waste improvements associated with the new concentrated format, consumers save money and energy on top of getting a better performing product. Providing consumers with products like this, with a reduced environmental impact and without compromise on price or performance is the key to future sustainable growth.