|01.04.2021 : Innovator Eklöh
Innovation is mostly driven by the entrepreneurial spirit of personalities. In Germany such a person was Herbert Eklöh (1905 - 1978), learning chemist firstly he opened in a second phase his first food-shop in 1928, building the first European Self-Service store in 1938 in the city of Osnabrück, starting to become a medium-size chain-store operation just after World War II. In 1956 his 58 outlets had a turnover of 60 million DM (Deutsche Mark) - in 1957 he opened in Cologne the first big-sized supermarket/hypermarket with 2.000 square meters which had already in its first year in operation a turnover of 9,2 million DM. In the same year Herbert Eklöh became co-founder of the Cologne-based ISB Institute for Self-Service : a joint merchant-owned institute for research and knowledge transfer.
Already in 1935 Eklöh had offered consulting services for the Department-Store Chain Kaufhof - acting for some time there beside his other activities as a director for food; now in the grey-dawn of self-service he sold the main shares of his chain in 1958 to the four big Department Store Chains Hertie, Horten, Karstadt and Kaufhof as a joint holding for learning more about this growing sector in food business.
But Eklöh became also a driver of diversification. In 1962 he took-over the majority of the sweets-chain Hussel/Hagen with 160 outlets in top-shopping areas of cities in Western Germany; in the end of the 60ies he invested in parfume-stores among which have been the traditional brand Douglas. His son Dr.Jörn Kreke later reached its first benchmark of 200 outlets in 1986. In 1989 "Douglas" became the name of the Holding for all diversifications: mainly Hussel sweets, Douglas perfume stores, Christ jewelleries, Montanus/Thalia book-stores, Appelrath-Cüpper/Werdin fashion outlets. Due also to international expansion according to Prof.Dr.B.Hallier since about the year 2000 Douglas could be called "An European Life-Style Group" having at that time a total of about 2000 outlets with 18.000 employees acting in 10 countries with an annual turnover of 5 billion DM.