At Bahlsen, we have been putting more of the best into every one of our biscuits for over 125 years.
With headquarters in Hannover, we are the market leader for cakes and biscuits in Germany and one of the leading manufacturers of sweet biscuits in Europe.
We are one of the largest family-run biscuit enterprises in the world. Bahlsen today produces its branded products at 5 sites in Europe and exports its products to over 80 countries.
With a labour force of nearly 2,500 worldwide, the company’s annual turnover is in excess of £400 million.
1889 - 1909
Starting the Business
On July 1st Hermann Bahlsen takes over the company “Fabrikgeschäft engl. Cakes und Biscuits” from H. Schmuckler in Hanover and renames it “Hannoversche Cakesfabrik H. Bahlsen”. Ten staff members are employed.
Birth of the Leibniz Cakes
By 1891 the company’s most famous product, Leibniz Cakes (keks), is introduced onto the market. As it is common practice to name food products after public figures, Hermann Bahlsen names his cake after Hanover’s well-known inhabitant: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)
Gold Medal at the World Exhibition in Chicago
The company employs 100 staff members. At the world exhibition in Chicago, Bahlsen receives the gold medal for the “Leibniz Cakes”. The official reason stated by the jury: “Several competitors imitate the Leibniz Cakes in one or another way; but only Bahlsen captures the fine taste of butter.”
Lower Saxony-Horse becomes Official Logo
The prancing Lower Saxony-Horse is registered as the trade mark. The company expands further. A distribution warehouse follows the new office in Berlin in 1898. By 1914 there are distribution warehouses in every major German city.
Luminous Advertising for Leibniz Cakes
The luminous advertising for Leibniz Cakes at “Potsdamer Platz” in Berlin is the second-ever luminous advertising in Germany.
Introducing the TET-Packaging
The new dust- and moisture-resistant TET packaging is introduced onto the market. The TET sign, deriving from an ancient Egypt hieroglyphic meaning ‘everlasting’, is originally pronounced as “dschet”, but simplified to “TET”. The TET-packaging is the first packaging made of paperboard with the ability to keep the biscuit enduringly fresh.
First Assembly Line in Europe
Besides the first punch card, Bahlsen introduces the first assembly line in Europe, eight years before Henry Ford adopts it in the automotive assembly.
The products “Noch Eine” and “ABC” are introduced onto the market.
1910 - 1949
Year of Change
Hermann Bahlsen changes the English word “cakes“ into ”keks”. Years later, the new term is officially approved and incorporated in the German Duden. The company moves into the new factory building in Lister Straße and the new head quarter in Podbielskistraße.
Pictures, sculptures, and ornaments create a harmonious working environment. Several social institutions arise.
From Cakesfabrik to Keksfabrik
In 1912 the company, which is now called ‘H. Bahlsens Keksfabrik’, sells over 12 million TET packs. The in-house magazine “Leibniz-Blätter” is published for the first time.
Model of the TET-City
Plans for a large factory including space for education and development, as well as space for living and recovery, (the so-called ‘TET City’) are proposed. The course of the war prohibits the implementation by the designer Bernhard Hoetger.
Shortage of Raw Materials by the End of the War
By the end of the war the lack of raw materials almost completely disrupts production. Only one out of 25 ovens is able to run.
Sorrow and Emulation
Hermann Bahlsen, founder of the company, dies on November 6th, 1919. His eldest son Hans Bahlsen (1901-1959), mainly responsible for technical development, takes over the corporate management. In 1922 his brother Werner (1904-1985) and in 1930 his second brother Klaus (1908-1991) join the corporate management.
Introduction of the “Express-Tin”
The “Express-Tin” is a bestseller for more than a quarter-century. Four million copies of the tin are sold within a year. Bahlsen employs 1,400 people, 450 office staff and 950 industrial workers.
Outbreak of World War II
Food products are rationed and raw materials are scarce. Employees are drafted into the German Armed Forces. The portfolio is reduced to 11 products. Emergency rations and crispbread are added to the range instead.
Reconstruction after the War
By the end of the war nearly 60 percent of the factory and almost all distribution warehouses are destroyed. On April 24th, the allies grant a permit to restart work.
1950 - 1969
High Quality Standards
In order to ensure high quality standards Bahlsen institutes physical and chemical laboratories. Furthermore, Bahlsen receives an export license. The first foreign shipment goes to Switzerland.
Export to the USA
Under the direction of Werner Bahlsen the company starts exporting products to the USA.
Bahlsen increases Export
Hermann Bahlsen (born 1927), son of Hans Bahlsen, joins the company. At the same time Bahlsen introduces the first thermoplastic rigid packaging – a welded aluminium foil – onto the market. By now Bahlsen is exporting to 74 countries.
Opening of “Plant 3”
In the new “Plant 3”, located in Barsinghausen near Hanover, production begins.
Bahlsen becomes International
Foundation of “Bahlsen France” and “Bahlsen Italy” as the first Bahlsen distribution companies abroad. With low personnel expenses Bahlsen enters both the French and the Italian market.
Bahlsen in Austria
Foundation of a distribution company in Austria. Due to strict import regulations, only small scale shipments to Austria are allowed. Large scale shipments have to be sent in several individual shipments.
Extension of the Product Range
The shareholding with the company Wilhelm Liebelt in Hamburg extends the existing product range in the field of nuts/snacks. Furthermore, Bahlsen opens up “Plant 4” in Varel, and production begins.
Beginning of the Snack Business
Thanks to a majority shareholding in the company Flessner in Neu-Isenburg (95%), Bahlsen expands the Snack Business and adds potato chips to the product portfolio. In 1994 a share of 100% of the company Flessner belongs to the Bahlsen Group.
Bahlsen bakes Cakes
The acquisition of “Kuchenfabrik Brokat” in Oldenburg creates a new business unit in the field of “cake”. By now Bahlsen employs 7,000 staff members in total.
Establishment of further affiliated Companies
The new “Plant 5” in Berlin takes up the production. In addition, Bahlsen establishes “Bahlsen of North America” and the affiliated companies in Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Bahlsen takes over “Gubor Schokoladenfabrik” in the Black Forest. Until 1991, this company belongs to the Bahlsen Group before it is sold to the U.S. corporation “Hershey’s”
Foundation of “Bahlsen Belgium”
With only four employees, the distribution company in Belgium is founded. Initially, the company focusses on Brussels as the main area of distribution. Later on the distribution expands with country wide delivery.
1970 - 1989
Further Company Foundations
Bahlsen obtains the majority share at “Productos Loste SA” in Spain and forms another subsidiary, this time in England.
Further Productions Abroad
Production abroad widens as a result of the takeover of the “Ouleway/Wernli”-group in Switzerland and the commencement of production in Noyon/France. The new administrative center is now in Hanover, Podbielskistrasse 289.
The Third Generation
In 1975 Werner Michael Bahlsen (born 1949), the son of Werner Bahlsen, joins the company. He starts his career at Bahlsen International Holding in Switzerland.
Production in the USA
With the acquisition of “Austin Quality Foods Company” Bahlsen starts production in Cary/ North Carolina. Bahlsen employs approximately 11,200 members of staff.
Outsourcing of the Production
Due to shortage of space, production in “Plant 1” in Hanover, the oldest factory of the company, is outsourced to “Plant 3” in Barsinghausen.
Bahlsen celebrates its 100th Anniversary
Bahlsen celebrates its 100th anniversary and looks back on a successful corporate history. Along with the anniversary, Bahlsen launches a new product, Jubilée, an assorted box of very fine sweet biscuits.
1990 - 1999
New Distribution Warehouse
Bringing the new distribution warehouse in Langenhagen, near Hanover into service, more than 100 employees ensure smooth-running logistics. Furthermore, Bahlsen acquires the Polish company “Unimarex”. At a later date, the company is renamed to “Poznan”.
Restructuring of the Bahlsen Group
Snack- and Sweet biscuits-businesses now operate independently. Both the Snack- and Sweet biscuits-businesses have their own independent management and sales company from this point on.
Bahlsen expands to Russia and Poland
Bahlsen acquires the Polish company Lajkonik Snacks S.A., including its 1,100 employees. With the national brand Lajkonik (today Krakuski), Bahlsen is now present in Poland.
Acquisition of a Traditional Company
Acquisition of St. Michel, France, a biscuit producing family enterprise with more than 90 years standing. St. Michel continues to be the national brand for Breton biscuits and cakes. The quality management system of all the German Bahlsen-plants is certified according to the EU-Norm ISO 9001.
New Name and Acquisition
Renaming of “H. Bahlsens Keksfabrik KG” into “Bahlsen KG”. Acquisition of the biscuit segment of the company “Brandt” as well as the subsidiary “Gottena”. From 1997 the “Gottena Keks- und Waffelfabrik GmbH & Co. KG” in Schneverdingen (Lower Saxony) is treated as an independent company.
Redirection of the Company
Hermann Bahlsen leaves the company and takes over all shares of the former subsidiary “Austin Quality Foods”, Cary/North Carolina.
Introducing PiCK UP!
1999 witnesses the launch of PiCK UP!, Bahlsen’s first countline, into Germany, Austria and France, with a major investment in machinery, advertising and promotion.
The Origin of Three New Incorporations
The division of the Bahlsen Group into the segments of “sweet” and “snacks” leads to three independent incorporations: Bahlsen (sweet biscuit), Lorenz (snacks), and a third corporation that integrates the brands Kelly and Wernli, real estate and financial services.
Bahlsen faces up to its moral Responsibility
During the war Bahlsen employed forced labor. They worked under the same conditions and received the same wages and social benefits as their German colleagues. Nevertheless, the company faces the moral obligation and joins the foundation “Stiftungsinitiative der deutschen Wirtschaft für die Entschädigung ehemaliger Zwangsarbeiter in Deutschland in der Zeit des zweiten Weltkrieges” – a foundation of the German economy for the compensation of former forced laborers.
2000 - 2009
Old Head-Office as New Headquarter
The original Bahlsen headquarters in Podbielskistraße 11 once again becomes the new headquarters. Extensive reconstruction turns the traditional building that is under a preservation order into a modern office building.
Official Opening of the Bahlsen Head Quarter “Stammhaus”
Bahlsen celebrates the official opening of the rebuilt “Stammhaus” in Hanover together with guests from business, politics and Bahlsen employees. One of the many guests of honour is the federal chancellor Gerhard Schröder. In his speech, he dignifies the commitment of the company.
New Brand Strategy
In 2002, Bahlsen introduces its new brand strategy at the worldwide biggest trade fair of the confectionery industry, the ISM in Cologne. Since that date, only two umbrella brands – Bahlsen and Leibniz – represent the company throughout the world. Due to clear positioning and a new pack design, Bahlsen stands for daily indulgence, whereas Leibniz is the brand for smaller snacks in between meals.
Cakes from Varel
Bahlsen relocates cake production from its factory in Oldenburg to the nearby production plant in Varel. This newly integrated production facility for cakes enables innovation in technology.
Bahlsen introduces two products onto the market: Bahlsen Crispini, bringing together the crunchy “Keks” and fine chocolate, and Leibniz Erdnuss Spaß, caramelized peanuts combined with the Leibniz Keks. Both products receive a reward for the most successful innovations.
New Positioning as Premium brand
Since 2008 Bahlsen follows the new strategy of promoting Bahlsen as a premium brand, offering innovative products of best quality. The new biscuit creation Bahlsen Chocofino is introduced onto the market and completes the repositioning
Bahlsen celebrates its 120th Anniversary
Bahlsen celebrates its 120th anniversary with a grand ceremony and continues to successfully demonstrate its indulgence expertise, which has been developed and refined during the many years of baking tradition.
Innovation in the Area of Sweet Biscuit Market
In 2010 Bahlsen introduces another innovation onto the market: Crispettis, a fine and crunchy biscuit with small pieces of peanuts and a hint of chocolate, which is perfectly made for snacking.