Big, business-y news today in the world of green cleaning:


Ecover, the European grand dame of "powered by nature" household cleaners, has purchased Method, Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry’s relatively young and increasingly ubiquitous San Francisco-based company that focuses just as heavily on design and packaging innovation — hand soap bottles made from oceanic trash or shaped like anthropomorphic rodents, anyone? — as it does the ingredients going into its expanding arsenal of biodegradable cleaning products, laundry detergents and personal care items. The acquisition, made for an undisclosed sum, means that Ecover will now be the largest green cleaning product purveyor in the world with anticipated combined annual revenues of $200 million and a workforce of 300.


Founded in 1980 by Frans Bogaerts and headquartered in Malle, Belgium, with additional operations in France and Switzerland, Ecover has long been the green cleaning product company préféré in Europe. The company’s presence in North America, while healthy, is much smaller (around 10 percent of the company’s business is conducted here, according to the Financial Times) than overseas. The fast-growing domestic market for eco-friendly household cleaners is largely dominated by homegrown operations such as Vermont-based pioneer Seventh Generation and 11-year-old Method, a company whose delightfully scentedCradle to Cradle-certified products can be currently found at more than 40,000 retail locations in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia. Prior to the sale, Method was owned by private equity firm San Francisco Equity Partners.


But don’t fret loyal Method-ites (Methodists?) ... the merger doesn’t mean that the brand that you know and love is going anywhere. Both Ecover and Method will continue to operate as distinct brands while the former continues to make headway into the U.S. market. Ecover is also eyeing Asian market according to the Financial Times.


Explains a press release (PDF) issued by Method:


The combined product range and global distribution reach, as a result of Ecover’s comprehensive supply chain in Europe which is matched in the U.S. by Method, will ensure that there is a worldwide platform for both brands. There will also be a combined approach towards innovation and research and development, aspects that both companies feel hugely passionate about as they support the foundations of their brands.

Adds Method CEO Drew Fraser:


The marriage of our two brands makes perfect sense, as we are both companies rooted in a deep heritage of sustainability, innovation, and making people’s lives healthier and happier. By coming together, our two brands will only serve to strengthen each other by providing complementary capabilities, an unrivaled opportunity for category-changing product development, and a united effort in building on our combined vision.

An interesting development that I didn’t quite see coming. Any dedicated Ecover or Method users have any thoughts on the acquisition? 


And on a somewhat related note, stay tuned for my upcoming review of Method's brand new dryer sheet-replacing Dryer-Activated Fabric Softener. Will it truly beat the sheet?


Via [Financial Times], [TreeHugger]


Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

European green cleaning powerhouse Ecover buys U.S. rival Method
Method, everyone's favorite purveyor of nontoxic cleaners that double as 'stylish countertop accessories,' is acquired by Belgium-based Ecover in a move that wi