» OLYMP Bezner KG is a typical story from the post-war economic miracle in Germany. Founded in 1951 by textile entrepreneur Eugen Bezner with only six employees, this small undertaking began in the kitchen of Mr Bezner's Bietigheim home with the production of men's shirts. Producing high-quality shirts from selected materials, OLYMP was soon able to establish itself on the German market as a leading manufacturer of high-end men's shirts. Now in its third generation and under the leadership of CEO Mark Bezner, OLYMP Bezner KG achieves a yearly turnover of EUR 237 million (2015) and is the market leader for men's shirts in Germany. Standing for the best-quality materials and methods, excellently-fitting products and the best value for money available, the company is also known for its social conscience. Making millions of items of clothing every year with uncompromising quality, the company is rightly proud of the strict social standards its workforce enjoys. In addition to the importance it places on occupational health and safety, the company takes care to ensure that its workers enjoy appropriate remuneration and humane working conditions.
In the interview below, CEO Mark Bezner identifies the secrets of his company's success past and present.
D’life: Mr Bezner, what makes Bietigheim so attractive as a location for medium-sized industries?
The Stuttgart region is not only the economic heart of Baden Wuerttemberg, but the economically strongest area in the whole of Germany. It is also the birthplace of and starting point for the history of OLYMP. With the exception of manual production, we have located all of our company departments – product design, research and development, sales, purchasing, marketing, distribution and storage/logistics – in the company HQ in Bietigheim-Bissingen. Since we started construction on out new company HQ in 2001, we have extended our business premises here to respond to continued company growth. October 2013 saw the commissioning of our cutting-edge OLYMP logistics centre. Combining shuttle and overhead conveyor systems, it is the largest storage warehouse for shirts in the world, and we chose the site quite carefully. The quality of life offered by the region – whether culinary, culture, architecture, art, nature, sport or health related – makes the region attractive both to existing and potential employees.
How does a company manage to maintain its success in the market for almost 70 years? How important are the typical Swabian virtues in this outcome?
In my opinion, the continued success of OLYMP is based on commercial discipline, expertise, continuity and an uncompromising attitude towards quality. Concentrating on our core areas of expertise in men's outerwear, we have been able to develop and produce our narrow but deep product portfolio with the highest degree of precision. This has enabled us to set ourselves apart from the competition. In my view, this is the reason for the expectionally positive development of the brand OLYMP. The alleged Swabian nose for business, which I have probably inherited, has doubtlessly also made a key contribution to our continued success.
What do you think is important for today's customers?
Price has become increasingly important in recent years, particularly in the field of clothing, so it is essential to offer fair value for money. In the 21st century, modern textiles are expected to do a whole lot more than they used to. Modern clothing needs to be not only comfortable, but resilient, easy to wash, crease-free, free of any concerns in terms of human ecology, ethically produced and of a high quality. We offer our customers all of these things, and they can rely on being at the cutting-edge of fashion and perfectly dressed for every occasion.
Can the success factors of OLYMP be transferred to the dental industry?
The two industries are very different, but both serve a highly-demanding and well-informed customer base that demands a reliable product as the basis for continued market success.
Many thanks for the interview.