Douglas’ Jörn Kreke Dies at 83

PARIS – Jörn Kreke, honorary chairman of Douglas’ supervisory board, died Wednesday at the age of 83, the German perfumery chain said.

Between 1969 and 2001, the executive built Douglas from a perfumery into a preeminent European beauty retailer.

“With his entrepreneurial vision and passion for retail and people, Jörn Kreke was one of the defining figures in the retail sector and one of Germany’s leading business personalities,” Douglas said in a statement Friday.

Kreke was born in Cologne in 1940, and started his career at Hussel Süßwaren- filialbetrieb AG in 1963, after having obtained a doctorate in economics and marketing. The executive became chairman of the management board in 1969, making him the youngest chief executive officer of a German publicly quoted company at the time.

“Jörn Kreke was the driving force behind the entrance into the perfumery business,” the company said. “Hussel took over Douglas in 1970, paving the way for the growth of the group: Under his leadership, the very successful development was launched that has made the Douglas Group the leading premium beauty provider in Europe today with more than 1,850 stores, around 18,000 employees and 4.1 billion euros in sales.”

Kreke handed operational management of Douglas to his son Henning Kreke in 2001, when Jörn Kreke became chairman of the supervisory board. Kreke had served as honorary chairman of the group since 2014, when he retired.

“On behalf of the entire Kreke family, I would like to thank everyone for the great sympathy that has reached us in these hours,” said Henning Kreke, chairman of Douglas’ supervisory board. “Working at Douglas, together with the wonderful employees, was not just a job for my father, but a true and personal passion that brought joy to his life every day. The path to success that the company is on today filled him with great pride to the very end.”

“Our thoughts are with the Kreke family, to whom I express my deepest condolences on behalf of the entire company and all employees”, said Sander van der Laan, CEO of the Douglas Group. “Jörn Kreke laid the foundations for the success of Douglas decades ago. For this, he deserves our eternal gratitude. In him, we have lost an outstanding personality, an icon in the retail industry and a very special person.” 

“Jörn Kreke has dedicated his life to Douglas and its employees, and his entrepreneurial achievements and life’s work will serve as an inspiration to future generations”, said Daniel Pindur, managing partner at Douglas’ main shareholder CVC Capital Partners. “He will always be closely associated with the Douglas name and the company’s success story.” 

Douglas has most recently been in the press with reports that the retailer is considering going public on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in the first quarter of this year, market conditions allowing.

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