Nowadays, purchasing in the retail trade is, above all, an emotional experience. The european retail giant Gries Deco Company (GDC) recognized this trend at an early stage and played a massive role in shaping it. A visit to the furnishing and wellness experts in October revealed that the company behind the DEPOT and IPURO brands makes up most of its pre-Christmas sales. As a department store for home accessories and small furniture, the retail brand DEPOT of the Gries Deco Company makes an impact on the image of modern shopping areas across Europe.
“Our retail areas, whether the branch in the city center or the shop in the shop, are the stages for our perfectly presented products.”Dr Patric Spethmann, Managing Director and COO of the Gries Deco Company
With currently around 500 branches, DEPOT is almost omnipresent in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The company profits greatly from the boom in online trading, but at the same time has succeeded in maintaining sales through a sophisticated shop concept with the point of sale in its branches and shop-in-shop sales areas. This is largely due to the attention to detail that is being practiced at GDC. “We do not just sell our approximately 25,000 different products, but rather the idea behind it. Shopping with us is an experience. Our retail areas, whether the branch in the city center or the shop in the shop, are the stages for our perfectly presented products,” says Patric Spethmann, Managing Director and COO of the Gries Deco Company.
This attention to detail has been a tradition at GDC since Oskar Gries founded his “Fabrication of Artificial Fruits and Christmas Tree Ornaments” in 1948 in Niedernberg, near Aschaffenburg in Southern Germany. In 1995, his grandson Christian Gries joined the company, and the first retail outlet was opened, which was called “Das Depot” at that time. What followed was a rapid expansion with many store openings. Despite this growth, GDC preserves, above all, its great love of detail. You can feel that when you visit the logistics center in Niedernberg, which opened in 2013. From a distance, the two gigantic halls with their architecturally sophisticated facades harmoniously blend into the landscape. Even the photorealistic floor in the form of a green flower meadow reflects the company’s claim to be able to turn any room into a feel-good zone. The logistics concept was fine-tuned to the last detail.
Largest distribution center in Europe
According to the company, the distribution center in Niedernberg is the largest hub for home accessories in Europe. The 150,000 square meter area along the B496 highway comprises a state-of-the-art 160 x 90 x 40-meter high-bay warehouse with around 111,000 pallet spaces or as put by Logistics Business Unit Manager Martin Kötter during the company tour “It can swallow around 130 single-family homes”. In addition, a picking warehouse offers another 17,502 parking spaces. With a number of 7,000 standard containers (TEU) in the import business as well as the same quantities from Europe, which registers GDC annually in goods receipt, this warehouse size is simply necessary. The two warehouses are interconnected underground by an electronic monorail. Fully electronic, the goods “float” out of the high-bay warehouse for picking. Around 3,000 pallets leave the DACH region every day, and around 85 pallets are distributed by Hellmann each day in the southwest sales region.
Since August 2017, Hellmann has been working for the Gries Deco Company as one of three strategic logistics partners. Hellmann handles the delivery of all branches and shops in the southwest region via the Nieder-Olm branch office on a weekly basis at fixed delivery times. On-time delivery is a particular logistical challenge requiring close interaction. In order to coordinate this as best as possible, GDC and Hellmann are currently conducting a test phase. After this phase, a multiannual framework agreement is to be negotiated. This framework agreement should manifest the good cooperation so far and could, thus, form the basis for further cooperation.
“The objective was sporty. Nevertheless, Hellmann managed to set up a sophisticated and well-functioning concept for goods dispatch in a short time.”Dr Patric Spethmann, Managing Director and COO of the Gries Deco Company
An initial assessment by Gries Deco looks positive. The quality and performance of Hellmann is impeccable, not least due to the weekly reporting between the GDC logistics team under Martin Kötter, the Hellmann Key Account Management team headed by Jens Müller, and the operating team in Nieder-Olm under Branch Manager Jürgen Pulz. “The objective was sporty. Nevertheless, Hellmann managed to set up a sophisticated and well-functioning concept for goods dispatch in a short time”, concludes COO Dr Spethmann.
Further expansion plans
In the coming years, GDC wants to expand further. Together with the Swiss Migros Group, the parent company of the Gries Deco Group, the retail specialist has set itself the goal of continuing to grow in all three retail channels: stores, online and wholesale.
By Henrik Schütte, Editor Hellmann Partner
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