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Günther Fielmann died

He was Germany’s most famous optician: Günther Fielmann died in Schleswig-Holstein at the age of 84. The entrepreneur built an internationally active company with tens of thousands of employees.

The entrepreneur Günther Fielmann is dead. The founder of the optician chain of the same name died on Wednesday at the age of 84 in his home town of Lütjensee in Schleswig-Holstein, as the Fielmann Group announced today. He fell asleep peacefully surrounded by his family.

“The thoughts of our more than 23,000 employees in Europe, Asia and the USA are with Günther Fielmann’s relatives these days. Our sincere condolences and deep sympathy go out to his family, friends and companions,” it continued. “We will all remember Günther Fielmann as a pioneer in ophthalmic optics with his customer-oriented philosophy, his creativity and his visionary spirit.”

A pioneer in ophthalmic optics

Fielmann significantly revolutionized the optics industry in Germany. The company was founded in Cuxhaven in 1972 and is now considered the market leader in Europe with hundreds of branches in Germany and other European countries. His optician chain is now present in almost every pedestrian zone.

Fielmann has been listed on the stock exchange since 1994, and the majority of the company shares remain owned by the founder. In 2012 he transferred it to a family foundation. According to its own information, the group employs 23,000 people worldwide and is the third largest company in the industry.

By the end of March 2023, Fielmann AG said it had a total of 977 branches at home and abroad and had 27 million customers. Annual sales in 2022 were almost 1.8 billion euros. Fielmann withdrew from the company in 2019 and handed it over to his son Marc.

The path to becoming an eyeglass maker

Günther Fielmann originally aspired to a career as a photographer, but his father’s desire for solid professional training led him into the world of optics. According to his own statements, he completed his training as an optician with flying colors. He boasted that he had made fashionable glasses affordable and introduced free glasses insurance, and advertised them in cinemas and on television.

Trade unions and employees occasionally complained that there was a high level of pressure to perform in the Fielmann Group and that some employees barely earned more than the minimum wage. But that couldn’t stop the Fielmann Group from becoming the most successful eyewear manufacturer in Europe. Year after year, Günther Fielmann announced new records, and the company’s shares rose sharply even in times of crisis.

Fielmann tried to keep his private life away from the public as much as possible. In his late 40s, he married and had two children, including his son Marc, whom he specifically prepared to take over the management of the company. His daughter Sophie-Luise was born five years later.

Commitment to the environment and the common good

In addition to his entrepreneurial successes, Günther Fielmann was also active as an organic farmer. He bought and renovated Plön Castle, which today serves as a training center for opticians.

Fielmann donated a lot to education, science and culture, ecology and nature conservation. He gave his employees shares in the company and planted a tree for each of them every year.

The chairman of the Fielmann Group supervisory board, Mark Binz, praises Günther Fielmann as a “century entrepreneur and visionary”. His strategic foresight, focus on customer needs and commitment to the common good have had a lasting impact on the German economy.

With information from Dietrich Lehmann, NDR

Hannah Böhme, NDR, tagesschau, January 5th, 2024 10:31 a.m

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