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Germany: Kaufland celebrates its 50th anniversary
Opening of the first branch -'Handelshof'- in Backnang © Kaufland
"From one single branch in Germany to more than 1,270 all over Europe - that was an exciting and successful development for Kaufland. Originally we were a Swabian family-owned company, today we are one of the most important retailers in the European market, planning to expand into Moldova and beyond Australia,” says Patrick Kaudewitz, CEO of Kaufland.
The Handelshof is were you buy fruit and vegetables © Kaufland
As one of the leading food retailers, Kaufland stands for great quality, a wide selection, low prices and easy shopping. "Our brand promise has been as simple as it has been relevant for 50 years and we offer our customers the perfect weekly shopping experience and thus a better quality of life," explains Kaudewitz. "Of course, this promise we will uphold in the future, and we will continue to develop ourselves, taking into account the expectations and wishes of our customers."
Always oriented to customer needs
Until 1968, the company was geared to local wholesale. Then came the strategic decision to enter the retail sector. Thus, the incipient trend in retailing from service to self-service was taken up. With a sales area of around 1,000 square meters and 70 employees, the first branch in Backnang set the course for development into an internationally successful retailer.
The following years were marked by the economic miracle. From 1965 to 1970, the number of vehicles in private households increased from 9 to 14 million (Source: Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt). As consumers increasingly used their car for purchasing, the company offered plenty of parking space right from the start. In the mid-70s, retail prices fell in the retail sector, which affected branded goods in particular. Kaufland was thus able to offer its customers inexpensive food and became particularly attractive for the family's weekly shopping.
European history as an opportunity for growth
Over the next few decades, the company has continuously opened new branches, above all in southern Germany. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the expansion continued to gain momentum. By September 1990 Kaufland had 51 branches nationwide. In October 1990, the first store in the new federal territory was opened in Meissen. Quickly other branches followed, so that in April 1993 the 100th branch in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg opened.
Initially, consumers in eastern Germany were particularly in favor of the new branded products from the West. But soon the customers were asking for the well-known regional products again. Kaufland accepted these customer requests, expanded its range of Ostmarken and thus strengthened the regional economy. Today, many of these Eastern branded products have established themselves and are offered nationwide by Kaufland.
With the market entry in the Czech Republic in 1998 began the international expansion of Kaufland. Until 2006, stores were opened in Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. In December 2010, the company celebrated its 1,000th opening in Europe with the Berlin-Lichterfelde branch.
Fresh at the best price
"If you stop improving, you stop being good" - with this claim, Kaufland continues to develop itself. The focus is always on the customers and their expectations for a perfect weekly shopping experience.
In 2017, the company has already converted over half of its branches to a new shop concept in a large-scale modernization offensive. This year, more branches will be modernized. The new concept simplifies purchasing through better overviews, lower shelves and better information via color symbols in all departments. The main focus is on freshness and quality. This is reflected in the newly designed areas for products such as fruit and vegetables, for the bakery and for the service counters were customers can buy meat, sausage, cheese and delicatessen. The revised range includes an even wider selection of regional and premium products. For its 50th anniversary, Kaufland presents itself as a sustainable trading company.
Actively working on corporate responsibility
Kaufland assumes responsibility for people and the environment and is committed, among other things, to climate protection. By the beginning of 2019, the company plans around 100 fast charging stations for electric cars. Kaufland is thus driving forward the expansion of the charging infrastructure in Germany, thereby supporting modern, environmentally friendly technologies in the area of e-mobility.
On the occasion of the anniversary, a nationwide fundraiser will take place from 8 to 14 February. For every selected regional product bought, the company will donate ten cents. The proceeds will pay for school trips for 50 classes to one of Germany's more than 100 nature parks. Kaufland has been supporting the Association of German Nature Parks since 2007.
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