Archive for 'Germany'

BayWa – Bayern Munich Fan Extraordinaire

baywa bag
Wandering through one of Munich’s shopping streets last Saturday, I came across a BayWa promotion….in their role of Bayern Munich sponsor. Being the naturally curious fellow that I am, I stopped for a visit and was promptly accosted by one of the promo girls, screaming into my ear, how absolutely marvellous it was that Bayern Munich had managed to get into the playoffs – and would I like to win a set of tickets for the playoffs?

Wow, I thought with a typical consumer reaction, pretty impressive.  And yes, I sure would like to be at the Munich/Dortmund Champions League final at Wembley later this month…that was the playoff I thought she was talking about. So I handed over my details and received this little bag in return. Glossy bag, bottle of water, an energy bar and an absolutely misshapen Granny Smith apple.

“What’s all that?”, I asked the young lady. “Well”, she said, we would like you to know a little bit more about BayWa. The water stands for our energy business, the muesli bar for our building supply activities and the apple represents our agriculture business. And we just love Bayern Munich.”

I did not take a closer look until I got back to my hotel later on and unpacked the bag properly.  The apple sure was not a good sight from a company which seems to consider itself to be a premium apple merchant.  I guess, one simply can’t just expect every apple to be the same…as one can with bottled water and muesli bars… or heating oil and building supplies…the prices might change but at least the product consistency would not change drastically.  Lessons to be learnt.

The lesson I learned was to read the fine print.  BayWa does not sponsor Bayern Munich, the soccer club…. but the Bayern Munich basketball section, so even if I win the tickets which I doubt very much, I would not be going to Wembley Stadium but to a basketball game in Munich.

A bit of a let down BayWa.



ALDI – 100 Years Young

aldi1I am in Germany right now and old habits die hard.  Which is why I am wandering through supermarket outlets observing, learning (hopefully) and thinking aloud, convincing the locals I am a lunatic causing some interesting reactions as I go.  ALDI Sued is celebrating its one hundredth birthday this month and the promotional brochure they issued for the occasion makes for some fascinating reading.

The “100” is a bit far-fetched as it was obviously not a supermarket journeyman baker Karl Albrecht opened in 1913 but a bakery!  The first grocer’s store was opened by his wife Anna Albrecht in 1916.  Still a far cry from being a supermarket.

Brothers Theo and Karl Albrecht took over the family store in Essen in 1945 and started the expansion process.  By 1948 four stores were in business and the first shop outside of Essen opened in 1954.

The brochure is full of interesting facts.  The chain separated into ALDI Nord und ALDI Sued in 1961 , each brother wandering off with a chunk of the family business.  ALDI, by the way, is the abbreviation for ALbrecht DIskont…Albrecht Discount.  The first of those discount branches were opened in 1962.  Based on the success of the original two discount two stores, the balance of the branch network across ALDI Nord & Sued were gutted refurbished accordingly in 1962/63.
Those early ALDI stores were pretty basic affairs… No shop fittings other than a till, no shelving, but all product arranged on pallets on the floor. No mor than 600 SKUs per store and certainly no deep assortments of any kind. This model, of course, opened up tremendous cost saving opportunities – and as ALDI insists – quality was never compromised from day 1.

In 1976 ALDI started selling General Merchandise specials to bring more foot traffic into their stores. 1983 saw the introduction of refrigerated cabinets for dairy products. Fresh produce joined the assortment in the mid eighties as well and in 1997 ALDI Sued started to sell frozen goods. German ALDI stores now stock circa 1000 SKUs. Scanning groceries at checkouts was not introduced until 2002, the year the Euro became a reality. Until then, checkout operators were required to memorise all prices!

In 2003 Germany introduced a new system related to refunds for empty bottles which saw ALDI Sued introduce automated receiving machines in their branches. Fresh meat became part of the range in 1986. and in 2007/2008, ALDI Sued and Nord joint forces to offer online services for flowers, photographs and travel.

In 2009 fully automated baking stations were introduced to the branch network and in 2010 returnable plastic crates made their debut in the produce departments.  In 2010 ALDI Sued published new business relationship policies which addressed the needs of customers, staff and suppliers. And by 2013, ALDI Sued has an 1800 store network across its designated area of Germany

Herewith endeth the party political ALDI broadcast….

ALDI SUED, by the way, is operating its stores as far away as Australia and for some years now the rumors are rife that an entry into the New Zealand market is due to happen.  Who knows.  If ALDI does come, the New Zealand supermarket landscape will change quite drastically.


Once Upon A Time – a Story started in late 2011 and finished Today!

Once upon a time, there was a Bavarian money lender who, during 1923, split into separate companies at the height of German inflation. One arm of the company continued to offer banking services while the other started selling farming equipment to Bavarian farmers.

By the 1960’s the company had become the biggest Bavarian distributor of tractors and combine harvesters and operated several hundred service centres across Bavaria. At around the same time diesel and engine oil gets added to the offer.

In the 1980’s the company expanded into the building sector and started marketing all components required to build houses and commercial buildings. Following German reunification in the 1990’s the company then expands into East Germany and Austria. At some stage during that period three business segments emerge in which the company intends to become the market leader; these being the Agribusiness, Building and Energy sectors.

Fast forward to 2011, the company in question BayWa Aktiengesellschaft is now spread over 14 countries and has recently announced that it has purchased Turners and Growers, subject to overseas investment approval.

And this is how far I got in 2011.  The story became a draft waiting to be finished…
Read more »

At the Markets part one – The Imposter

My recent European sojourn found me in Nuremberg – a city that is both famous and infamous.  On the famous side, it is known for its contribution to the arts and Christmas; while for the infamous there’s the trials.

Nuremberg is an old city.  Like many medieval cities, there is a market square in front of the church – and this one is still in use regularly for a busy local farmers’ market.


It is very picturesque, with all the stalls resplendent in their candy striped awnings, and probably very much like it has been for centuries.

However, lurking in amongst the stalls trying to look inconspicuous, I came across this:



I’m not sure how farmer or local this is, but it does show how far some iconic foods have been able to travel from their homeland and become globally normal.

A Stroll Through Berlin (II)

You may remember the blog entry about munted expired Christmas trees flung indiscriminately off their balconies by Berliners in the weeks after Christmas.  I have been asked whether I had made that story up as some  Hortsource reader are clearly doubting Thomases. 

Politcal Footballs Are So Yesterday - How About A Political Christmas Tree Then?

The short answer is, “No, it’s the thruth, honest, Gov!”  Here is the proof. A couple of days after just about breaking my leg negotiating Christmas trees loitering on footpaths across the city, I came across this electioneering poster designed and displayed by the Berlin CDU – the conservative party of Chancellor Angela Merkel. It shows a candidate for the local body elections busy clinging to a Christmas tree.  The caption reads – “CDU cleans up.”  Abandoned Christmas trees are clearly a key political issue in Berlin, at least when it comes to local elections.  Any lessons for our elections later this year???

Staying with the concept of interesting sights.  Here is a carton of Jazz apples taking a couple of its minders for a stroll across the  Fruit Logistica exhibition.  A fairly sterile affair, a trade fair.  Everyone in his or her finery, spot lights on the product, every apple polished to make a good impression, crowds of people, no where to park the car, a need to get reaquainted with the concept called “winter coat” and “Garderobe”, the place where one needs to leave one’s coat in order to avoid suffering from overheating as one visited the fair.  When one wants to understand though how the punters on the street feel about new fancy apple varieties or if one wants to understand the scope of the market we are exporting into, one needs to keep wearing one’s coat and mingle with the locals in a spot where the locals shop! Like the Wochenmarkt – a German farmers’ market. 

Jazz apples with bodyguards

Apart from the aroma of Bratwurst and mulled wine which alone  are worth a visit, one gets to see apple varities one did not even know existed.  Many of these are heritage varieties, varities which existed when the old Kaiser Wilhelm was around – and you know what?  People are buying them.  The competition and the opportunity for our apple marketers is enormous!  A traditional apple market like Germany does not make it easy for something new from the Antipodes like Jazz to turn up and say, “oi, move over.  I am here now and want some shelf space”.  We should therefore not undestimated the effort companies like Turners & Growers and others have to go to, in order to achieve a degree of cut through and exposure, particularly in mature markets like continental Europe where every consumer is an expert!  Well done!

On another matter , I am yet to find a decent Royal Gala I am happy to finish in the local market here in Auckland.  What am I missing?  Bad season? Somebody better put me out of my misery and come up with an explanation, because I can’t accept that I should have to eat substandard apples in a country that prides itself on its pipfruit quality!

Kaiser Wilhelm Apples & Colleagues

Apple Buying Is Serious Business