Drugstore: How dm boss Christoph Werner steers the drugstore through the pandemic

Christoph Werner

The current dm boss once planned to become a pilot in the Bundeswehr.

(Photo: imago images / BeckerBredel)

Düsseldorf It was not easy for Christoph Werner to take up his post. Right from the start, the son of dm founder Götz Werner and chairman of the management board of Germany’s largest drugstore chain dm had to prove himself as a crisis manager. Like so many entrepreneurs in Germany, he had to find solutions to ensure sufficient distances in stationary retail. A special challenge, because after all, trade is a social event, he said in an interview with Handelsblatt at the beginning of the pandemic. He lives from the fact that the salespeople, who advise, respond to the customers and take them by the hand.

But even in pandemic times, Werner dm keeps on the road to success – despite changed customer behavior. “Due to the restrictions in connection with the pandemic, many customers have experienced how easy it can be to shop online at,” said Werner at the drugstore chain’s annual press conference on Thursday, at which he presented the company’s developments.

Accordingly, dm relies on a so-called omnichannel strategy. This means that customers can no longer find their products in the traditional way in a branch, but also on a website or in dm’s own app. You can also choose between different payment methods.

Accordingly, dm recorded strong growth in online trading. This is likely to have contributed to the fact that sales of the drugstore chain in Europe rose by 6.5 percent in the 2020/2021 financial year compared to the previous year. With this, dm is reinforcing its position as the leading retailer for drugstore goods in Europe and is even expanding its market share.

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Dm is particularly widespread in Germany: According to Werner, more than half of all German households buy products from one of the 2096 dm stores or by ordering online from dm. In addition to online trading, investments in the branch network are therefore an important component.

Dm invested more than 110 million euros in its branches in the past financial year – and intends to put another 120 million into it in the coming months. In 2020/2021, the drugstore chain in Germany grew by 45 stores.

Europe’s largest drugstore retailer is also working on the market launch in Poland as the 14th European country. The leasing of a company headquarters in Wroclaw has already taken place. Thus, more than 40 employees are to expand the dm working group.

Germany’s most popular retailer

In November, the international management consultancy OC&C Strategy Consultants published a ranking of the ten most popular retailers in Germany this year. The drugstore chain dm is again at the top of this “Retail Index 2021”.

“The reason dm did incredibly well is because of the areas of trust and reliability. The combination of both made the drugstore chain unbeatable in this year’s ranking, ”says Christophreiber, partner at OC&C and one of the authors of the study.

The drugstore chain is also one of the winners of the corona crisis. “As local and basic suppliers, they were there for consumers throughout, and they also managed to grow in the markets,” explainsreiber. In the German market, sales increased by 5.8 percent compared to the previous year.

In the retail index, dm even beats, which is in second place. Driver explains that the bad image in the area of ​​sustainability is increasingly becoming a problem for Amazon. Sustainable action is becoming increasingly important for consumers.

Accordingly, dm attaches great importance to a sustainable image. When presenting the figures, Christoph Werner emphasized: “Dm would like to take a pioneering role in retail when it comes to assessing the ‘grandchildren’ suitability ‘of our service provision for our customers.”

In order to become more sustainable, dm has formulated 15 specific goals. For example, the company wants to include more sustainable and environmentally neutral products in its range, label products more clearly and introduce a sustainability code for supply chains. In addition, around 90 percent of the packaging for dm products should be recyclable by 2025. And last May, dm started a pilot project in which the company set up refill stations for dishwashing detergents and detergents in five stores.

More: You can find all current company figures in our live blog

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