About Douglas

» History

The origins of Douglas

The name Douglas originates from John Sharp Douglas. The emigrant from Scotland founded Hamburg’s first perfumery and soap factory in 1821. From this day, fine soaps and perfumery products were manufactured in the Hanseatic city under the Douglas brand and increasingly sold in proprietary shops.

Another milestone followed in 1910 when the sisters Maria and Anna Carstens signed a contract with the Hamburg-based company J.S. Douglas Söhne that entitled them to operate a perfumery under the brand name “Douglas Perfumery”.  In line with the aspirations of the company, the Douglas Perfumery was located on Neuer Wall 5 – one of Hamburg's most elegant and expensive shopping streets. Over the next decades, another five perfumeries opened their doors in Hamburg and were soon renowned well beyond the city boundaries.

Becoming a European market leader

The roots of today‘s Douglas go back to the year 1969 when the Hamburg-based perfumeries were acquired by Hussel AG under the aegis of the CEO of the time, Jörn Kreke.


Douglas ventured abroad in 1974 and took over the perfumery Ruttner in Austria. At the end of the 70s, the Kreke family turned Douglas in Germany into a national brand: after the acquisition of other perfumeries, all perfumeries in Germany were being operated under the “Douglas” brand from 1978 which laid the foundation for a distinct brand profile and greater internationalisation.

Perfumeries in the Netherlands, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal were added in the 80s and 90s. Poland and Hungary, Monaco, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, Turkey, the Baltic States, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia followed from 2001.



In 1989, the parent of Douglas, the listed Hussel Holding AG, adopted the name of its most successful subsidiary, calling itself DOUGLAS HOLDING AG.

1995 saw the introduction of the Douglas Card, which subsequently developed into a leading loyalty card in European retailing. Thanks to the Douglas Card, Douglas‘ multiple award winning loyalty program reaches some 10 million clients across European markets today. Together with the programme of the French perfumery chain Nocibé, the number of members benefiting from the diverse advantages of the loyalty program even exceeds 17 million.

Since the year 2000, opening hours have ceased to be an issue - clients can access Douglas online at any time. Douglas operates separate online shops in many European countries where clients can select from an extensive brand and product offering in the perfumery, personal care, make-up, accessories and decoration segments.

In 2011, Douglas extended its offering to include a mobile application that enables clients in Germany to make mobile purchases at their leisure - anytime, anywhere.



In 2012, the Kreke family and Advent International submitted a public takeover offer to the remaining shareholders in a bid to acquire the outstanding shares of the listed parent of DOUGLAS Group, DOUGLAS HOLDING AG, which at the time also owned the companies Thalia, Christ, AppelrathCüpper and Hussel.

After the successful takeover, they delisted DOUGLAS HOLDING AG from the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2013 in order to strategically realign the conglomerate.

The transformation of Douglas into a pure-play perfumery chain that is now leading the European retail market for beauty products and cosmetics was successfully completed in 2014.

The year 2014 also saw a number of operating milestones: Douglas took over the French perfumery chain Nocibé and extended into Norway. As a result, Douglas now has a presence in 19 European countries.

In 2015, funds advised by CVC Capital Partners [CVC] and the Kreke Family acquire the Douglas Group. As a result, CVC succeeds Advent International as majority shareholder of Douglas, Europe's leading beauty chain. The Kreke Family will retain a minority shareholding of 15 percent in the Company.