Learn About the Largest German Retail Companies

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The largest retail chains in Germany are also some of the largest retail chains in the world.  That's according to the annual Global Powers of Retailing report prepared by the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu consultancy.  This is no surprising consider this overview of German Retail Industry facts and statistics:

  • The German Retail Industry Is comprised of 300,000 retailing companies
  • German retail companies employ 3 million German workers
  • The revenue generated annually by the German retail industry is $450 billion Euros (approximately $500 billion USD), according to the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. 
  • Germany is part of the "Big Three" of the European economy along with the UK and France.  
  • The retail sector is the third largest economic sector in Germany. 

What follows is the list of Germany-based retail chains that were ranked as being among the top 250 retail chains in the world, in terms of revenue.   The number in the left column is the global ranking number assigned to the company when that company's revenue was compared with the annual revenue of all other retail chains in the world.  

It is worth noting that the 2016 Global Powers report is based on FY2014 revenue figures.  The rankings from the 2010 report are also included for comparison to reveal the upward or downward trajectory for each German retailer on the global retail stage.

U.S.-based Companies Ranked Among the 250 Largest Retailers In the World

Metro AG
2016 Global Ranking - #8
2010 Global Ranking - #3
Cash & Carry Warehouse Club

Schwarz Unternehmens
2016 Global Ranking - #4
2010 Global Ranking - #5
Discount Store

Aldi GmbH & Company oHG
2016 Global Ranking - #7
2010 Global Ranking - #9
Discount Retailer

Rewe-Zentral AG
2016 Global Ranking - #20 (Rewe combine)
2010 Global Ranking - #11
Supermarket

Edeka Zentrale AG & Company KG
2016 Global Ranking - #17 (Edeka group)
2010 Global Ranking - #19  
Supermarket

Tengelmann Warenhandelgesellschaft KG
2016 Global Ranking - #100
2010 Global Ranking - #58
Home Improvement

Otto (GmbH & Co KG)
2016 Global Ranking - #76
2010 Global Ranking - #70
Mail Order

Arcandor AG
2010 Global Ranking - #71   
Department Stores/Teleshopping   

Fa. Anton Schlecker
2010 Global Ranking - #89
Drug Store/ Pharmacy  

C&A Europe
2016 Global Ranking - #116
2010 Global Ranking - #99
Apparel/Footwear 

Globus Holding GmbH & Company KG
2016 Global Ranking - #123
2010 Global Ranking - #132
Hypermarket/Supermarket

Dm-drogerle markt GmbH + Company KG
2016 Global Ranking - #103
2010 Global Ranking - #135
Drug Store/Pharmacy

Praktiker Bau- and Helmwerkermarkte
2010 Global Ranking - #147
Home Improvement 

Dirk Rossmann GmbH
2016 Global Ranking - #111
2010 Global Ranking - #150
Drug Store/Pharmacy

Celeslo AG
2016 Global Ranking - #188
2010 Global Ranking - #158
Drug Store/Pharmacy

Norma Lebensmittelfillialbetrieb, GmbH
2016 Global Ranking - #223
2010 Global Ranking - #163
Discount Store

Douglas Holding AG
2010 Global Ranking - #170
Specialty

Delchmann Group
2016 Global Ranking - #178
2010 Global Ranking - #180
Apparel/Footwear Specialty

Bauhaus GmbH # Company KG
2016 Global Ranking - #154
2010 Global Ranking - #188
Home Improvement

HORNBACK+Baumarkt-AG Group
2016 Global Ranking - #213
2010 Global Ranking - #206
Home Improvement

RELATED: Global Retailers On a Mission

Cross-Pollination Between German and U.S. Retail Markets

Despite the strong presence of German retailers on the World's Largest list, there are few German retail brands that will be recognizable to the average American, with one notable exception.  The no-frills Aldi grocery store chain is taking American food retailing by storm.  Aldi is also the parent company of the wildly popular grocery store chain Trader Joe's, which has a fanatically loyal customer base that is the envy of all of the largest U.S. retail chains.

As there are few German retail brands in the U.S., there are relatively few American retail brands doing business in Germany.  Some examples of American retail chains in Germany include:

  • Build-A-Bear
  • Calvin Klein
  • Claire's
  • Crocs
  • Fossil 
  • Levi's 
  • Swarovski
  • Tommy Hilfiger

As is the case in most global markets, the biggest U.S. retailing presence comes from American restaurant chains.  The biggest restaurant chains operating in Germany are:

  • Burger King
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • KFC
  • McDonald’s
  • Pizza Hut
  • Starbucks
  • Subway
  • Tony Roma's

One U.S. retail brand that is noticeably absent from the German retail landscape is Walmart, which tried to set up shop in Germany, but ended up closing all of its stores there in 2006.  Germany is one of four markets where Walmart has proved that there's no such thing as "too big to fail."  The other countries where Walmart doesn't have a retail foothold are India, Russia, and South Korea.

Trends in the German Retail Industry

According to Euromonitor International, the retail industry in Germany is experiencing drastic changes in brick-and-mortar retailing due to shifting consumer preferences.  Entire chains and retail store segments are disappearing partly because of decreased consumer demand and partly because of consumer preferences to purchase merchandise from certain categories in different ways.

Just like in the U.S., music stores, bookstores, and consumer electronics stores and appliances retail chains are struggling and going out of business.  Also in alignment with the U.S. retail industry, department stores in Germany are struggling to remain relevant and profitable.  

The big retail disruptor for all of these failing retail segments is the Internet.  And while a shift to Internet shopping doesn't have to mean the death of a retail company, unfortunately for many German retail companies it does.  And the primary reason for that can be summed up in one word - Amazon.

Reportedly Amazon is doing so well in the German retail market that the global retailing giant is considering buying the Frankfurt-Hahn airport in order to support its fulfillment center in Koblenz, Germany.  Considering that Amazon leased 20 Boeing 767 freighters in 2016 to enable timely product delivery of Amazon.de purchases, the purchase of an airport is not such a far-fetched rumor.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Amazon has a goal of building a logistics operation that would be a competitor to delivery services like UPS and FedEx.  The overarching goal may be for "Fulfillment by Amazon" to be a titan in package delivery, whether those packages are purchased on an Amazon website or not.