Willy Bogner has lined up a succession plan for Bogner, the skiwear and sportswear company that his family started in 1932.
The 78-year-old namesake of the Munich-based company has reorganized his responsibility for the Willy Bogner GmbH & Co. KGaA by appointing Arndt Geiwitz as trustee to represent his interests as Bogner’s owner. In addition to ownership rights, the trustee will represent his entrepreneurial responsibility for the company.
Bogner’s aim is to set up a long-term succession plan in the best interests of the company and its employees, and to try to ensure that the interests of the family are protected. Going forward, Bogner will focus on contributing to further development of the brand, design and fashion collections.
In a statement, Bogner noted that working with the management board over the past two years the Bogner brand is back “on a successful course with attractive fashion collections.” Two years ago his model-turned-designer wife Sônia, who helped her husband modernize the family business, died after a long illness.
Bogner said, “It is very important for me to ensure that our company, my life’s work, is set-up for a sustainable and successful future. There is still a lot of work ahead of us. At the age of almost 78, I realized that I could no longer accompany the company as actively and intensively on its future path as necessary.”
In 1932, Willy Bogner Sr. established the company with roots in sports, outfitting West Germany ski teams from the start. He competed in the nordic combined event at the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. His wife, Maria, was credited with creating the modern skiwear look, overseeing design and serving as the company’s lead model. She designed the first version of Bogner’s anorak just after World War II. While her husband was in the war, she ran the company. When he became a prisoner of war, she set out on a bicycle to find him and eventually arranged for his release in Hammelburg, Germany. Maria died in 2002 at age 88.
Following Willy Sr.’s death in 1977, Willy Jr. and his wife expanded into other categories, introduced the Sônia Bogner label and the snowboard-inspired Fire + Ice brand, and opened freestanding stores. The company has distribution in 50 countries and 800 employees worldwide. In 2017, Bogner’s annual sales were said to be upward of $300 million.
Geiwitz has worked with many family businesses to arrange succession planning and strategic realignment. He is managing partner of the law firm SGP Schneider Geiwitz & Partner, a law firm in Germany that has a track record with family-owned German mid-caps — companies valued between $2 billion and $10 billion — as well as companies in the fashion and retail industry.
Bogner chief executive officer Andreas Baumgärtner said the company’s management board responded to the news of Geiwitz’s appointment as trustee “with great respect” toward Bogner.
”We appreciate Willy Bogner’s great entrepreneurial achievement and his passion for fashion and sport, which has made Bogner an iconic brand and still distinguishes Bogner in the market today. Willy Bogner and his family have always put the long-term success of the company first. This is also reflected in Willy Bogner’s prudent approach to set up the company for the future. With the trustee corporation, we have now a solid basis for the long-term growth of Bogner,” Baumgärtner said.
In October, the succession plan was put in motion for the next Bogner generation, when Bogner’s daughter, Florinda, joined the company’s supervisory board. At that time, Klaus Volk, a well-established attorney, was appointed chairman of the supervisory board to help steer the company’s strategic realignment. Bogner said he was “convinced” that with the management board, these two additions will result in “a strong and viable set-up for the future of the company.”
Bogner said, “Business and sport have one thing in common: success comes to those with the best possible team. Sportsmanship, therefore, also means stepping back in good time in the service of the team and the common goal,”
Earlier this month, Bogner and the Munich-based Mytheresa unveiled a partnership. And last month Bogner introduced a Fire + Ice commemorative collection in honor of the brand’s 30th anniversary and threw a party in its New York store. In doing so, Bogner launched a short-action film featuring freeskiers Bene Myer and Lauren Fritzenwaller.