The company started as a wig store in Downtown El Paso in 1968, and expanded into the hair appliance business in 1975 by first supplying hair salons with hair dryers and curling irons. In 1980, the Company's founder, Jerry Rubin, entered into a successful licensing agreement with Vidal Sassoon. Since then, the Company's growth has come through years of acquiring rights to use well-known global brands in the health and home, housewares, beauty and nutritional supplements categories, or by acquiring brands and companies outright. Those transactions have made Helen of Troy a force in the personal-care products market.
The company underwent a notable tax inversion when it reorganized into a Bermuda company in 1993. This inversion prompted new Federal Legislation tightening the rules on inversion, which are colloquially known as the "Helen of Troy Rules."
In June 2004, the company paid $273.2 million for OXO International, a New York designer and maker of household tools. In January 2011, the Company announced it has completed the acquisition of Kaz, Inc. for $271.5 million. Kaz provides health care and home environment consumer solutions including body thermometers, humidifiers, fans, and other products primarily under the Vicks, Braun and Honeywell brands, as well as products under owned brands like Stinger, Softheat, and Kaz. In January 2012, Kaz acquired the PUR water purification products business from The Procter & Gamble Company.
In 2014, the Company implemented its succession plan, with Jerry Rubin stepping down as CEO, and the appointment of Julien R. Mininberg as Chief Executive Officer effective March 1, 2014. Mr. Mininberg had served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Helen of Troy’s Healthcare/Home Environment segment.
Since that time, the Company has grown organically and through acquisition and operates in four reportable business segments. By order of sales contribution, these are Health & Home, Housewares, Beauty, and Nutritional Supplements. Helen of Troy's sales were $1.537 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 .
As of February 28, 2017, the Company employed approximately 1,685 full-time employees worldwide. The Company's US headquarters and Shared Services Center is in a unique northwest El Paso building, and the company has two distribution facilities in Olive Branch, Mississippi, and Southhaven, Mississippi. The Company also has offices in Bend, Oregon, Mexico City, Mexico, Toronto, Canada, Sheffield, England, Lausanne, Switzerland, as well as in the Far East in Macau, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong.
The Company contracts with unaffiliated manufacturers, primarily in China and Mexico, to manufacture a significant portion of its finished goods for the Beauty appliances and accessories, Housewares, Healthcare, Water Filtration, and Home Environment product categories. The Nutritional Supplements segment and the North American region of the grooming, skin and hair care category of the Beauty segment source most of their products from U.S. manufacturers. For fiscal years 2017, 2016 and 2015, finished goods manufactured by vendors in the Far East comprised approximately 67%, 68% and 67%, respectively, of total finished goods purchased.