Who has not heard the famous slogan “Quadratisch! Praktisch! Gut »? This phrase is firmly associated with the name of one of the most famous chocolate manufacturers. It is interesting that in the original version the slogan sounds only in some countries, including Russia. Our sweet tooth does not need to explain what these German words mean.
The company Ritter Sport itself is a classic European family business. They are led by the third generation of the Ritter family. It is interesting that with the new managers, the company has only improved, which in general is unusual for the family business. Simply in this case, each subsequent generation understood how important traditions are, continuing to observe them.
And the history of the brand started back in 1912. Then confectioner Alfred Ritter suggested young Clara Gottl to marry him. The girl agreed. Successfully it turned out that the couple held together not only love, but also professional passion. They both loved sweets and worked on them. Alfred was a confectioner, and Clara had his own sweetshop. After the honeymoon passed, the newlyweds began to think about setting up their joint venture.
In the first year of family life, Alfred Ritter Schokolade-und Zuckerwarenfabrik was born. The production started right in their rented dwelling, which was not far from Stuttgart. Alfred created new products, and Clara sold them in her shop. The family immediately went well. But then it was just a small family business, which simply allowed not to be miserable, while doing what you really like.
With the outbreak of the First World War, Alfred went to the front. The company’s affairs were shaken, its future was in a fog. But then the Ritters were lucky – in 1917 Alfred was transferred to civilian work. And on a very useful object – the chocolate factory in Stuttgart. There the confectioner learned how to create chocolate, how to mix it with fillers. This radically changed the future of the family company.
Upon returning home, Alfred Ritter decided to change the place of residence of the family. After all, their house did not suit him as a future base. There was not a large warehouse, which was soon to be required. After moving Alfred, armed with new knowledge, began to create chocolate. They helped him with the secrets he had seen in the factory in Stuttgart. In 1919, the light saw the brand of chocolate Alrika, quickly became famous. In this product, Ritter has invested all his knowledge. In total, the company produced three types of chocolate, it differed filler: raspberry, rum and orange.
But in those days such a compound sweetness was generally a rarity. Consumer interest in a delicious product has led to the growth of the company. A year later 40 people worked there. And in 6 years there was also the first firm truck which began to distribute production on shops. Now the company has already worked 80 people. It ceased to be a handicraft, but became a real enterprise, a factory. The Ritters opened their second store.
And in 1930 the company opened a factory in Waldenbuch. However, all employees who lived in Bad Cannstatt remained on staff. Ritters took them to work on special buses. Today this attitude to the staff is not surprising, but for those times it was very unusual. So began the company Ritter Sport. It can be noted that the Ritters owe their success to simple borrowing. Even business benefits are advised to adopt their best ideas from competitors, which Alfred Ritter actually did. The fruits of this approach did not wait – after 2 years after moving to a new factory a new product was introduced, which became a classic for decades. It’s about the famous square chocolate bar Ritter Sport.
In this case it is worth talking about not a breakthrough of a separate company, but a real revolution in the industry. The idea of creating a chocolate of this form came to mind Clara.She noticed that in the country are becoming popular sports jackets with small sports pockets. So why not make chocolate so shaped that it can be safely put in your pocket? This idea was expressed at the family council of the Ritters. Clara proposed to make the chocolate strong enough that it does not break, and at the same time having the weight of ordinary tiles.
The Ritters decided to try and implement this interesting idea. However, they could not even think that in the future such a product would not even be the main one for their company, but the only one. But then there was still no question of that, the 1930s began. The company began to gradually advance its square chocolate to the market, having in its arsenal and other popular products – sweets, Christmas and Easter sweets, and just ordinary chocolate bars.
In the 30’s, the Ritter business grew, but in the ’40s it was hard to talk about development – the Second World War came. For 6 years, the company ceased operations altogether. Only in 1946 the production of sweets resumed. In this difficult post-war time, when creating products, it was necessary to dispense with cocoa, it simply was not in Germany. Only by the early 1950s the situation stabilized.
In 1952, Alfred Otto Ritter, son of Alfred and Clara, became the head of the company after the unexpected death of his 66-year-old father. But the heir was already in adulthood, so he was quite ready for such a position. It was the younger Alfred who made the main step in the history of the company, concentrating all efforts around producing exactly square chocolate. In 1959, the second founder of the company, Clara Ritter, died.
In the 60s, classic tiles, sweets and other sweets gradually disappeared from the Ritter Sport range. And since 1970 the company has begun the conquest of the native German market. It was then that the world saw the first television commercial with the slogan “Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut. ” Appeared and chocolate with yoghurt filling. The manufacturer began to speak throughout Germany. By 1972, the company produces 10% of all tile chocolate in the country, and its turnover is 100 million marks.
In the early 70’s consumers received color TVs. At first such a miracle was available only to the wealthiest, but soon it became a mass phenomenon. This fact decided to use the Ritters. Alfred Jr. came up with a special color for each brand of his chocolate. This would make it possible to distinguish the variety by the color of the wrapper. This step would allow the chocolate Ritter Sport to become even more original. Again, we can talk about a revolution in the industry, because then no one has done such actions.
This is an approach that seems natural today. Appearing together with such a package, the corresponding advertisement in 1974 read: “Everything has become more colorful, more joyful and active, and with them chocolate.” A couple of years later, the Knick-Pack packaging was presented, which still protects the Ritter Sport tiles. The highlight of this package is that you can open it, bite off a piece of tile and close it again. Today this wrap is a trademark for chocolate Ritter Sport.
And in 1978 Alfred Otto Ritter died. For a while, the management of the company was carried out by his wife, but then the supervisory board introduced children – Alfred Teodor and Marley. And the management was entrusted to managers from outside. It was logical, because the heir was then only 20 years old. He only studied, receiving education in the field of psychology and economics. And by 1983 Alfred Theodore would head the supervisory board, but still the direct leadership would be entrusted not to him. In 1987, the company already has 710 employees, and the turnover is 400 million marks. 10% of all products are exported.
It is interesting that in 1988 Alfred organized his own company Paradigma. Her business was in no way connected with sweets – the company produced thermal solar batteries.And the reason for the emergence of such a new business Ritter was the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Strange as it may seem, it influenced the main, chocolate direction. The radioactive cloud started moving towards Turkey. And it was there that the hazelnuts grew, which the company bought for its main product.
So those events became unpleasant, Alfred decided that we need to help mankind to abandon such a dangerous nuclear power industry. Currently, Paradigma has progressed quite seriously in its research, becoming one of the leaders in its industry. And in 2005, Alfred led the family business. He had a conflict with top managers, who in their own way saw the future of the company. So the owner had to take direct control over himself.
Alfred’s style of management corresponds to the philosophy of kaizen. The head itself is rather soft and allows the subordinates to show independence. According to Ritter, the main success of his company – the family and continuity. Each new generation of leaders thought of long-term successes, rather than beautiful figures in current reports. This allowed the company to really grow, despite the difficulties.
In Russia, Ritter Sport is loved, it is no coincidence that 5% of all foreign sales fall on our market. At one time, the Germans were releasing their products at the Korkunov factory, but after the transfer to the ownership of the American Wrigley, the agreement was canceled. In total, chocolate from Ritter Sport is tamed by people in more than 70 countries.
And in 2008 the company launched a new variety – bio-chocolate. It is distinguished exclusively by the best ingredients. Cocoa in it from Peru and Ecuador, cashew nuts from Tanzania, and raisins and almonds from sunny California. The product turned out to be environmentally friendly, meeting all EU standards for bio-products. As a result, chocolate was not only delicious, but also useful. So Ritter Sport continues to keep pace with the times, not forgetting the traditions of the past. The head of the company hopes that in the future it will remain a family one.