Dr. Wolff continues to grow and targets 400 million euros turnover with new health products

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  • Preliminary balance sheet 2022 shows 363.2 million euros turnover for 2022
  • Normalisation of business after three years of pandemic and high sales of hygiene products
  • Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo grows seven times faster than the market, receives another patent and presents latest research results in January
  • R&D pipeline also in the core areas of dermatology, gynaecology, and oral care leads to expectation of extraordinary growth in the coming years – sales of over 400 million euros targeted for the first time in 2023

Despite generally difficult global conditions and a noticeable decline in the hygiene and disinfection market, Dr. Wolff Group again increased sales in the past year. The Bielefeld-based family business achieved preliminary sales of 363.2 million euros in 2022 (357.2 million in 2021). In addition to the recovery in the hairdressing sector, in particular Alpecin managed to further expand its clear market leadership in male hair care against the competition (seven times stronger than the market according to the German Cosmetic, Toiletry, Perfumery and Detergent Association IKW, as of 8 December 22), while the highly innovative dental care brands Karex and Bioniq® were successfully launched in the first foreign markets.

Despite the general conditions, the company is very optimistic for 2023 and beyond. “For the first time, we aim to achieve more than 400 million euros in turnover in 2023. The basis for this is a veritable fireworks of innovations and new scientific data,” says the managing partner, Eduard R. Dörrenberg, looking positively into the new year. In a research study conducted in 2022 on male hair loss with a new caffeine formulation, the results were extraordinary. Thus, even a drug development and a corresponding approval are conceivable. The first data will be presented as early as in January 2023 at a congress in Rome. In the field of oral care, there were also numerous new findings on the alternative active ingredient hydroxyapatite used by Dr. Wolff. For example, independent international researchers proved that this substance, which originates from nature, is the best active ingredient for sensitive teeth and is also effective against chalky teeth in children, while fluorosis and chalky teeth are increasing worldwide.

Product pipeline

The pipeline for 2023 includes new products and the latest research findings will be incorporated immediately. For example, Dörrenberg announces a new Alpecin shampoo against grey hair with a long-term effect, a new cream against itchy skin and neurodermatitis, an expansion of the existing gynaecological line and the international rollout of a drug as a topical cream against severe axillary hyperhidrosis (heavy sweating in the armpits).

Digitalisation and internationalisation

This is another reason why digitalisation is being driven forward at Dr. Wolff’s. The digital unit “e-Wolff” has been in existence for more than six years. Since, the unit has grown to almost 50 employees. Internationalisation is another important pillar: The office in Singapore will celebrate its 10th anniversary in a few days and the Asian business will also be further expanded. Another regional office is being built in Madrid for Southern Europe and, in the medium term, for South America, too. The location in Chicago and the efforts in the USA will come even more into focus. “There is absolutely no alternative to further consistent digitalisation and internationalisation in view of the local and global framework conditions,” says Dörrenberg.

Many vacancies

At the Bielefeld location, too, employees are still being looked for in all areas. Currently, the company has advertised as many as 51 positions there. In addition to many additional benefits, Dr. Wolff also offered monetary support in difficult times last year. “In addition to collectively agreed bonuses and salary increases, we already paid out a voluntary special payment to all employees in October 2022,” states the entrepreneur.

“The time with Corona has made us even stronger and has also clearly shown how significant health continues to be as one of the megatrends of the future, especially in an ageing population. This is where we are very well positioned and have exceptional and evidence-based brands and products available, while many of our major competitors are weakening slightly right now,” says Dörrenberg.

Research for dental health of the future

In the field of dental health, further studies on hydroxyapatite are ongoing with scientists and research groups from various international universities.

The new widespread disease is called “chalky teeth” – MIH for short. It now affects about one third of all 12-year-old children. In this disease of the permanent teeth, there is a lack of mineralisation. As a result, teeth are often porous, they hurt, and are non-functional. This mainly affects cheek teeth and incisors. A published study [1] already proved a pain reduction in chalky teeth by means of the active ingredient hydroxylapatite, which is used by Dr. Wolff in dental care. Another study [2] came to the conclusion: a toothpaste containing hydroxyapatite mineralises MIH teeth better than maximum doses of adult toothpaste containing fluoride. Research into the causes is currently still in early stages. “We will intensify research hereof in the new year. In addition, we want to inform more target groups about the clear strengths and the width of the effective fields of hydroxyapatite,” says Dörrenberg.

The launch of another toothpaste “Junior Karex” for children from 6 years of age, which is designed for the tooth change phase, has already been successfully on the market since summer 2022. Internationally, conquering further markets is on the agenda. In the USA, for example, there are many fluoride-free dental care products also from manufacturers who have relied exclusively on fluoride in Germany for many years.

Caffeine in anti-hair loss research

For almost 20 years, Bielefeld-based Dr. Wolff Group has been considered the market leader, know-how carrier and innovation driver in anti-hair loss research with caffeine. In the meantime, caffeine has gained a reputation as the best-researched herbal active ingredient against hair loss due to extensive studies [3]. It is all the more remarkable that the scientific team led by Dr. Erik Schulze zur Wiesche succeeded in obtaining another patent for hair growth through caffeine. This again impressively underpins the strong effectiveness of caffeine for hair physiology. Dr. Wolff’s research and development has proven that the daily, topical application of caffeine counteracts the decrease in hair thickness in winter and can thus cancel out the seasonal differences in hair diameter. The patent demonstrates the high efficacy potential of caffeine in the treatment of thinning hair and is further evidence of the value of this natural active ingredient in hair care. “The patent confirms our previous research efforts on caffeine. It shows once again that we have an active ingredient that is highly potent and offers added value for human hair,” says Dr. Erik Schulze zur Wiesche, Head of Research and Development at Dr. Wolff Group.

Researchers in Italy have recently presented study results according to which not only hair loss can be reduced, but even significantly more hair could be detected when using caffeine in the growth phase. Currently, the research and development department at Dr. Wolff’s is working on a formulation for the use of a substance previously unknown in hair care that can further enhance the effect of caffeine. The product developers expect results in the new year.

New product against heavy sweating in the armpits brings back quality of life

In the pharmaceutical division, the Bielefeld-based company also obtained the first and only drug approval in Europe for an anticholinergic cream against severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis (abnormal sweating in the armpits). The cream with the active ingredient glycopyrronium bromide has been successfully available in several European markets since last summer. Since the preparation was introduced, numerous German dermatologists have called it the “first real innovation in dermatology in a long time”.

[1] Study on sensitive teeth (Ehlers et al. 2021): Professor J. Deschner, Mainz University Medical Centre.

[2] Study on remineralisation of MIH: Amaechi et al. 2022

[3] Daniels, G., Akram, S., Westgate, G.E., Tamburic, S. (2019). Can plant-derived phytochemicals provide symptom relief for hair loss? A critical review. In: Int. Journal of Cosmetic Science, 41, 332-345.