Deichmann is a retailing phenomenon and is the largest shoe retailer in Europe today.
Remarkably, after more than 100 years of trading, it is still a family business. It started in 1913 in a blue-collar area of Essen-Borbeck, in the heart of Germany’s Ruhr district. Heinrich Deichmann, born in 1888, opened a cobblers’ shop and ran it with his wife, Julie. Two generations later, the company has developed into Europe’s market leader. Today, Deichmann is currently active in 24 countries with around 3,600 stores and employs more than 36,000 people.
The company has always progressed under its own steam without feeling the need to seek either stock market listings or external capital. This strategy has enabled Deichmann to remain independent. Branches are not run as franchises; they are directly controlled by the company.
It sells close to 200 million pairs of shoes each year, and the business is led by Heinrich Deichmann – grandson of the company founder. Under his leadership, the company’s internationalisation has gathered pace.
More than half of the Deichmann Group’s total turnover is now generated abroad. Aside from Germany, the company is currently active in 22 other European countries and the USA.
In its stores, it has pioneered the ‘rack’ concept which was first introduced in America. Customers are not just presented with shelves of single shoes and then have to find a sales assistant to bring them the correct size/colour. In Deichmann stores, shoes are on display in pairs and with their boxes so that the process of trying on items and purchasing is streamlined.
From a property perspective, this focus on continuity and long-term goals means that Deichmann is interested in long-term commitments.
Despite the fact that Deichmann is the European market leader in the shoe retail industry, the company will continue to be run as a family business in the future and will retain its independence. During its development, Deichmann has stayed faithful to its original strategy: developing growth from its own resources. And you can’t argue with the success of its approach.