Friday 24 December 2021
Käthe Wohlfahrt after bankruptcy
The feeling of Christmas ‘translates into digital’
A year ago – shortly before Christmas Eve – the traditional company Käthe Wohlfahrt was forced to file for bankruptcy. The absence of tourists and the shutdowns brought the Christmas Merchant business to a standstill. One year later, Takuma Wohlfahrt evaluated the third generation of entrepreneurs.
Käthe Wohlfahrt means German Christmas like no other: the traditional company sells nutcrackers and Christmas decorations at markets and in stores all over the world. But a year ago, the family business was on the verge of collapse: during the pandemic, Christmas markets were canceled, no more tourists came to Germany, and sales collapsed by 80% in 2020. Shortly before Christmas Eve, Käthe Wohlfahrt entered the shield proceedings condom.
A year later, it was time to take stock: the company remained in family hands. 20 out of 280 employees were laid off, 8 out of 22 stores had to close, and scale was streamlined. “The situation and mood were very frustrating, but after a lot of deliberation it was definitely the right move,” says Takuma Wolfhardt. On the podcast “The Zero Hour”.
The grandson of the company’s founding couple Wilhelm and Käthe Wohlfahrt is currently in charge of marketing. Together with his brothers Kenta and Asuka, he was supposed to take over the company in 2020, but due to the pandemic, they had to change their plans. “Of course, we imagined it very differently,” Wolfhardt says, but the crisis was also a “very useful school.” To keep calm despite bankruptcy proceedings in order to keep the business going, one learns “certainly not in ordinary life or in studies,” Wolfhart says. From 2024 he should take over management.
2021 hasn’t been an easy year for Christmas traders either, but international business is almost back to pre-crisis levels. “There is a need for life to return to normal, Christmas and rest, as customers want to buy when they are allowed to,” Wolfart says. Online business also generates sales and has growth potential. “But it will be a huge task for us to translate that feeling, this very emotional element, which you can easily experience in stores, into digital,” he explains. And in the end, Christmas will come “also in the next few years.”
Listen to The new episode of “The Zero Hour”:
- Whether you can buy a nutcracker with a mask from Käthe Wohlfahrt
- How Takuma Wohlfahrt Celebrates Christmas This Year
- How are roles distributed with her siblings within the company