Anniversary celebration at Wanzl – always by the customer's side for 75 years

The road to success from scale manufacturer to trendsetter in international trade

Cloud-based store management, digital shopping trolleys and shelves, fully automated 24/7 stores – sounds like Silicon Valley, but it is actually Leipheim in the Bavarian-Swabian district of Günzburg, Germany. Wanzl has been based here since 1947 and has now been a trendsetter in international trade for 75 years. Starting with a workshop for scale manufacturing and repair services, the company later became successful as a manufacturer of wire shopping trolleys. Today, the company is a global leader in innovation for retail solutions. Other business areas include material handling, access solutions, airport and hotel services.

On 5 May 1947, Rudolf Wanzl Sr. and Rudolf Wanzl Jr. founded the company Wanzl in Leipheim. Exactly 75 years later, the entire global “Wanzl family” came together via digital live-stream to celebrate this achievement. At 11h00 on the dot, Gottfried Wanzl, Supervisory Board member of Wanzl GmbH & Co. Holding KG, Dr Klaus Meier-Kortwig, Chairman of the Management Board of Wanzl GmbH & Co. Holding KG, and Prof. Dr Peter Ruhwedel, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Wanzl GmbH & Co. Holding KG, officially launched its anniversary celebrations in Leipheim by cutting the anniversary cake. Gottfried Wanzl gave an interesting overview of the company’s successful history, while Dr Klaus Meier-Kortwig outlined the corporate strategy in light of the current challenges and transformation of Wanzl. Prof. Dr Peter Ruhwedel then explained the vision and mission of the family business on behalf of the Supervisory Board. At the same time as the ceremony in the headquarters, employees were also served anniversary cake in almost all branches of the Wanzl world. The originally planned celebration in Leipheim was cancelled due to the war in Ukraine. While death and endless suffering prevail in Europe as a result of the war, the company considers it inappropriate to hold a grand celebration. Instead, EUR 300,000 will be donated on behalf of the shareholders, the Supervisory Board and the company for various charitable purposes.

Prof. Dr Peter Ruhwedel "Wanzl is and remains a family business. The shareholder families stand behind Wanzl and see it as their responsibility to ensure that the company is positioned for the future. To this end, we continue to develop and modernise the company. This keeps us at the forefront of our industry worldwide. One thing is always important to us: we attach great importance to constructive cooperation in our corporate culture because every software and every new process is only as good as the people who work with it. In these challenging times, we would like to thank our employees worldwide for their outstanding commitment."

Dr. Klaus Meier-Kortwig: "We are an economically healthy company and are in the comfortable situation of tackling the current challenges, such as the massive increase in costs for materials, energy and transport, while at the same time continuing to invest in our future. In this way, we can lead Wanzl into a successful future by combining tradition and digital progress." Gottfried Wanzl (grandson and son of the company’s founder): "The success factors of our company’s history were creativity in product development, a strict quality philosophy as well as the foresight to identify opportunities and to invest courageously – whether in the development of our production depth or in the international expansion of our business. But we also had a lucky break and could, above all, always count on a strong Wanzl team."

Background story

Wanzl has been at the forefront of the world of retail since its foundation. In order to not only maintain this position, but also to build on it, the company is currently investing in the largest transformation and change process in its history. After all, the transformation of the retail sector continues at a rapid pace. Driven by the megatrends of our society, such as digitisation, neo-ecology, individualisation and urbanisation, consumer behaviour is changing fast. Wanzl’s most important partners are responding with new business models, testing innovative shop formats, expanding e-commerce and quick commerce and modernising the appearance of their stores. Wanzl is at the heart of all these concepts as an innovation leader. Building on its strong basis as the world market leader in shopping trolleys, the company is consistently pursuing its path to success. Moreover, it is always at the customer's side, knows their needs, solves their problems. The company also proactively identifies upcoming trends and develops feasible, forward-looking strategies with corresponding products. Wanzl is a complete solution provider along the entire value chain in retail – on the product and project side, digitally and analogue, nationally and globally, everything from a single source. Wanzl is still entirely family-owned and upholds the values of a traditional family-owned company. In 2015, the shareholder families placed the successful implementation of the transformation in the trusted hands of an external management team. With currently over 4,600 employees, 12 international production sites, 27 sales outlets and around 50 agents, Wanzl is a global player in its industries. How it got there is inseparably linked to the Wanzl family.

The beginnings of success

The retail sector’s evolution from counter sales to self-service is inconceivable without Wanzl. The introduction of self-service and the invention of the shopping trolley heralded a major upheaval for retailers in the mid-20th century. In the initial phase, Wanzl produced shopping baskets for checkout manufacturer NCR for demonstration purposes and developed the first shopping trolleys on castors from them. The conceptual breakthrough came after a trip to the US by co-founder Rudolf Wanzl Jr. in the 1950s. There he saw the first shopping trolley in the world and while still on the return flight he designed a more manageable model: the basis of all shopping trolleys today. Wanzl’s extraordinary success story literally got off to a flying start.

Healthy growth from craftsman’s workshop to global player

With the boom in the self-service concept in the second half of the 20th century, Wanzl also saw a steady increase in sales and employee numbers. In demand as an innovation leader, the company has become the global market leader for shopping trolleys over the decades. During this time, Wanzl also developed into a shopfitter with enormous vertical integration, which impressed its customers with its in-house planning department for interior design, reliable project management and comprehensive logistics services. Rudolf Wanzl Jr.’s firm resolve with the following motto also contributed: “We invest everything we earn.” The four German plants in Leipheim and Kirchheim, Germany, were built one after the other and have been continuously expanded ever since. Wanzl also expanded worldwide. From the 1970s to the present day, branches, agents and other production facilities were opened in the most important trading nations and regions. Modest but targeted takeovers of competitors also strengthened Wanzl on its way to the top. Just like the company, the various business areas have also grown historically. Airport, Material Handling, Hotel Service and Access Solutions were added to the Retail division over the course of time.

From wire shopping trolleys to 24-hour stores and more – Wanzl’s business areas

Food retail and near-food stores are in Wanzl’s DNA. It all started with the shopping trolleys. Over the course of the successful years, baskets, shelving systems, sales tables and many other individual products were added in the Retail division. These were followed by access systems and customer guidance systems, right through to complete shopfitting. The implementation of state-of-the-art shopfitting projects, from customer-specific planning and creative design to seamless commissioning and after-sales, has become a core competence of the company. Wanzl has the perfect solution for creating shopping experiences – always in top quality and everything from a single source. These can be unique products such as smart shopping trolleys and product presentation systems, digital solutions, as well as complete shop concepts such as trading-up designs, 24/7 stores and fulfilment formats. Or entirely individual complete solutions are developed together with the customer. All of this makes Wanzl a strong partner to the retail sector.

In addition, in its 75-year history, Wanzl has always seized the opportunity to diversify into related business areas. In the field of state-of-the-art access solutions, the company is a sought-after provider of creative and technological solutions. Fully automated entrance systems secure, simplify and refine building management. Whether turnstiles, exit gates, access gates or vending units, the stylish entrance systems combine design with function, integrate skilfully into any interior and ensure efficient control of access and the protection of sensitive areas. With its comprehensive, digital services for effective material handling, Wanzl also makes a significant contribution to the economic success of its partners in logistics processes. The portfolio for order picking, transport and warehousing, as well as the consulting and analysis expertise of Wanzl’s logistics experts, optimise internal and external logistics processes, significantly lower error rates and reduce throughput times. Wanzl also impresses as a system supplier in the airport sector with comfortable luggage transport trolleys, smart trolley management and trolley monitoring as well as modern passenger guidance systems for controlling passenger flows. Airport gates ensure passengers’ security checks are as precise as they are quick and tamper-proof. Wanzl’s hotel service also aims to provide all-round successful guest care. The company supplies numerous partners in the international hotel industry with perfectly functioning aids for housekeeping, front office and kitchens. The range extends from chambermaid trolleys to restaurant and laundry trolleys to luggage trolleys.

This is what the Wanzl brand has stood for since 1947.

Responsibility, partnership, innovation, quality – Wanzl has always been committed to these four factors because the company always places the highest demands first and foremost on itself. Appreciation, sense of responsibility and respect determine the relationship with employees, customers, the environment and society in general and are an integral part of the corporate identity. Thanks to an extensive service network, Wanzl is able to assist its partners worldwide – whether as a consultant, solution provider or producer of first-class premium products. Striving for innovation and perfection is a core principle of how we do business. The company therefore always focuses on customer requirements and boldly invests in new things. Wanzl vouches for this as a high-performance, value-oriented company and contributes to the success of its customers as a quality leader with ideas, creativity and service.