The multi supermarkets in Leer


The supermarket business “multi” in Leer was founded in 1970. The founder, Mr Hero Brahms, had taken over his parents’ grocery store, where customers still bought merchandise from the counter, and assistants handed out the items to them. When a wholesaler left its premises, Mr Brahms acquired these 1,500 m2 and made it the first multi supermarket. Looking for a suitable name, all family, friends, and employees available had a brainstorming session on it and decided on “multi”, a Latin word meaning “much” or “many”, already hinting at the vast number of articles they would have to offer.

At that time, multi had 34 employees and offered about 8,000 to 10,000 articles. It was an overnight sensation. On the first day at 8:30 am half an hour after the shop opened it was full of people. The reason for that was probably the fact that Multi was the first consumer market in the region. For the customers it was a totally new experience to walk through the aisles of a supermarket and take the products themselves from the shelves, obviously enjoying this very much.

20161103-multi-sud-museum-mit-herrn-brahms-sr-1Mr Hero Brahms in the museum at multi Süd, which renders the style and atmosphere of his former grocery store.

Two years later, a second market, multi Süd (south), was opened in the south of Leer because of the big success of the first, and much later, in 2008, the third multi market opened in Emden, a town 34 km north-west of Leer. This was not planned and only happened because of a good offer by EDEKA, the largest supermarket corporation in Germany.

Today there are still two multi supermarkets in Leer. While multi Nord (north), located opposite the site of multi’s foundation, is relatively small and compact and for this reason more attractive to many customers, multi Süd (in the meantime taken over by Hero Brahms’ son, Matthias) is growing bigger and bigger and is frequently renovated and modernised. The last reconstruction cost a few million euros. Now it is more like a shopping mall with the whole area of multi Süd featuring 47 other retailers and restaurants. The area of all three multi markets together is approximately 14,600 m2. multi Süd’s car park offers 1,000 spaces. However, multi is the last large-scale family-owned consumer market in Germany.

20161103-multi-sud-modell-11:87 scale model of multi Süd

20161103-multi-sud-modell-3View of the southern entrance

multi gets its merchandise through three different pathways: many products are supplied by EDEKA, by producers like Bahlsen (the most famous German cookie producer), and by direct suppliers. Altogether, multi Süd is supplied by 350 different companies.

The main supermarket has a range of more than 50,000 different products, which are selected based on the consumers’ demands. This e.g. means customers can choose from 70 different frozen pizzas. Every week about 5 tonnes of meat and cheese are sold and they have approximately 2,000 glasses of nutella in store. Yet the products most sold are East Frisian tea and “Kluntje” (rock candies traditionally put in tea).
Traditional East Frisian tea

Bruno Gelato ice cream products have been on offer since 1998 as an example of close cooperation between local companies. Each day about 55,000 items are sold in multi Süd, with 150 people employed currently; this number is still increasing.

When employing people, their personality counts more than their certificates. This is because Mr Brahms’ philosophy is based on the assumption that the atmosphere in a business and the mood among the employees warrants the success of the company. Consequently, Mr Brahms’ relationship with his staff is based on trust and friendliness. He knows all his employees personally and supports them in their professional activities. It is no surprise that multi staff have a reputation for being cheerful and helpful.

Apparently, this results in greater honesty among multi customers. Annual stocktaking shows that only 0.5% of the merchandise is stolen, which is very low compared to other retailers’ figures.

Checkout tills

Yet Mr Brahms jun. also believes that there must be progress, otherwise a standstill will soon result in a setback. So he regularly comes up with new ideas for his market, for example he recently introduced pick-up-points, and he also plans to establish an online-market. Plans to modernize the toy section have been in the pipeline for long, but have not been realised so far because other activities have seemed more important,

He also wants to improve the feelgood factor for his customers so that the atmosphere at multi is turning more and more into an event character. With all these new ideas, multi never stops developing, and as a result, Mr Brahms always has something to do. Yet he sees this as a bliss and a curse: on the one hand, it is very exhausting. But on the other hand, you also stay fit and do not age that quickly. Mr Brahms rarely travels businesswise and works approximately 50 to 60 hours per week, with even longer hours e.g. when the shopping areas are renovated.

Although the markets are very successful, another multi branch is not being planned. Its economic success would be questionable, and the market would no longer be a regional one. The aspect of regional products is crucial for the multi philosophy in that they can react more readily to the customers’ wishes for regional specialities.

Beyond this, the Brahms family do not want their current life to change because of business expansion. Right now, it seems as if they have found the right balance between economic success and time for themselves. The involvement of the whole family is seen essential for the smooth running of the company, and the current size and popularity in turn influences the daily routine and family life greatly. So members of the Brahms family work in all multi markets and are involved in all organisation steps, such as advertisement, public relation, and development of the markets.

Admittedly, it is not always pleasant to be identified with the business, but apart from that everything else seems to be quite positive for Mr Brahms. They also support local charities and social institutions, e.g. they support the Kinderschutzbund Leer (child protection organisation) and the Leeraner Tafel, an organisation that sells food to people in need cheaper by giving them food close to the best-before date.

For future business people, both Mr Brahms sen. and jun. recommend to be reliable and predictable and to be ready to wait for the right moment in life. Success cannot be planned, but opportunities will occur, for which young entrepreneurs must be open. The development of the multi markets shows that businesses grow gradually and have to adapt to the market situation. Mr Brahms jun. gave the example of two businesses in the multi Süd mall opened side by side, with the advantage of different hours of customer activities. So, one sale assistant is now able to serve both shops simultaneously and thus providing a synergy effect.

Although most steps in multi’s development have been successful, setbacks have taken place. One example is the failure of moving into another shopping mall in the north of Leer, which was offered by competitors who owned the mall. It did not catch on and suffered severe losses, from which the Brahms family learnt a lot on the way to the current state. This means that openness, patience, and visions for the future are crucial for business people.

This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Bruno Gelato – An ice-cream factory in Rhauderfehn (East Frisia)

Bruno GelatoBruno Gelato is a big ice-cream company from Germany which produces genuine Italian ice-cream. The main branch is near Leer, in Rhauderfehn. Here, a huge variety of ice-cream flavours is produced and sold in many countries all over the world. The fresh milk for the ice-cream is from East Frisia, our region.

More information is given in the following interview with the founder and owner of Bruno Gelato, Bruno Lucchetta.

Bruno Lucchetta

Interview with Bruno Lucchetta


–    Who is the founder of the company and is he Italian?

I’m the founder and I come from North Italy.

–    When was the company founded?

The first ice-cream parlour was founded in 1987 and it centralised itself in 1995.

–    How did you get the idea to found “Bruno Gelato”?

We wanted to sell high-quality ice-cream because in the supermarkets ice-cream is often not very tasty.

–    How did you found your company?

At first we only had an ice-cream parlour in Rhauderfehn. Our ice-cream was very popular, so we started two new ice-cream parlours. Later we had eight or nine parlours and we couldn’t buy ice-cream machines for each one. So we decided to start a central factory from which we supplied our ice-cream parlours. Only later did we market our ice-cream.

–    Did you ask for a credit when you started your company, and if yes, how high was it?

We had to apply for credits very often. The first one amounted to 100,000 German marks (now about 51,000 euros).

–    How many staff did you have at the start of “Bruno Gelato”?

We had only three employees.

–    How many types of ice-cream did you have at the start?

At the start we had 30 different types.

General information

–    Where is your main branch?

It is still in Rhauderfehn.

–    Are there any other “Bruno Gelato” branches in Germany?

No, there aren’t.

–    Are the sales in winter lower than in summer?

Yes, of course. In winter we don’t have to produce much ice-cream, so we use the time for some reconstructions and repairs.

–    Is “Bruno Gelato” a family-run company?

Yes, it is. Our family comes from North-Italy.

–    Do any family members work in the company?

Yes, my brother and my wife work here.

–    How many personnel do you have?

We have about 80 employees.

–    How old is “Bruno Gelato”?

“Bruno Gelato” has been in business since 1987, so it is 29 years old now.

–    How long do you work daily?

We work from 6 o’clock am to 11 or 12 o’clock pm.

–    How many ice-cream parlours do you supply with your ice-cream?

We supply 1,200 ice-cream parlours.

–    What was your greatest success?

I set new goals again and again, so there has not been a “greatest” success.


–    What’s your most-sold type of ice-cream?

Our most-sold one is vanilla ice-cream, the second one is chocolate ice-cream.

–    How many different flavours of ice-cream do you sell?

We sell 105 different ones.

–    How do you produce your ice-cream?

We produce it with fresh whole milk and fresh fruits.

–    Where do you produce your ice-cream?

We produce it here in Rhauderfehn.

–    How do you get ideas for new, special kinds of ice-cream?

My wife and I often visit several places all over the world. In the different countries we attend ice-cream fairs where we get to know many special, often exotic types of ice-cream.

–    How many litres of ice-cream do you produce a day?

We produce ca. 50 tonnes of ice-cream per day.

–    How long does it take to produce ice-cream?

It takes at least one day.

–    Have you taken any flavours out of your assortment already?

Yes. We’ve taken out strawberry and hazelnut because the market potential wasn’t high enough.

–    What are your newest kinds of ice-cream?

Our new ones are fresh cheese with sea buckthorn, pie plant, red fruit jelly, cherry mania and chocolate with marshmallows.

–    Do you have “limited editions”?

No, we don’t.

Bruno Ice

This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Young careers

The Department for the Promotion of Trade and Industry in the District of Leer publishes a newsletter “Young careers” to inform young people about business opportunities. After an interview with one of the consultants, we were asked to report on our activities, and so we sent them a report on our first project meeting in Suchy Las, titled “An economy project at the UEG – a different approach to learning” (in German).

This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Business in Leer and its surroundings

In Poland the German team gave eight presentations about Leer and its hinterland

Geographical position and hinterland

The position of the Leer is 53° northern latitude and 7° eastern longitude. Leer lies in the north-west of Germany, close to the Netherlands, only 40 km from the North Sea. The next city larger in size is Bremen (100 km). There are two rivers running through Leer, where the Leda runs into the Ems, which in turn flows into the North Sea. In the North Sea, just off the coast, are the seven East-Frisian islands (Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge). The Wadden Sea is an integral nature reserve and a world natural heritage.

Local and international transport

In Leer the most used means of transports are cars, lorries, trains and buses. We have got an airfield for transport of persons. The planes from there only fly to the East Frisian Islands and sightseeing flights. It’s a small airfield in Nüttermoor. We have also a train station from which we can travel to many other cities, for example Bremen, Hanover and so on. The northbound line leads to Emden/Norddeich, an eastbound eastbound line links Leer with Oldenburg and Bremen, and further with Hamburg or Hannover. To the south, Leer is connected to the Ruhrgebiet and Cologne.

The motorway connections are similar, but there is a motorway to the Netherlands (Groningen), too. The train line to Groningen was recently disconnected due to a ship destroying the railway brigde over the Ems.

Every morning we students go to school by school bus, by bike, by feet or by car. Some older students ride their motorbikes to school.

Population – People and their needs

People need basic needs, for example food, drinks, and sleep to survive. We need a job when we are older, but in Germany people are able to live without a job, because they are entitled to unemployment benefits (so-called Hartz IV).

In summer, people need swimming pools or lakes for cooling down or chilling. In Leer the swimming pool is closed, but we have a few lakes around Leer.

Every town needs a hospital, in Leer are even two.

In our leisure time we can go to the cinema or we can go shopping with friends in our city. If we like sports, we can go to the bowling centre or other sports facilities or clubs.

The structure of employment

The unemployment rate in the district of Leer had decreased to 6.3% in December 2015, which means there are only 5,450 unemployed people out of 165,000 inhabitants. A more serious problem is that there are many unemployed teenagers. For the unemployed people in Leer it means that if the company they work for closes down, they will most probably lose their job, with the prospect of staying unemployed. This in turn means that quite a few people in this district only have a small income (Hartz IV, see above) for food, clothes, rent and other expenses that they need to have a good life. Their families will suffer, too.

Tourist attractions

In Leer are many attractions, for example the old town with the town hall, the harbour and the old Waage. It is one of the most important attractions and you can enjoy the old town walking through the old and colourful historic houses. Leer’s old town is the venue for a traditional year market, the Gallimarkt. Since the beginning we have celebrated more than 500 Gallimarkts. Near the old town is the monument commemorating the war with France back in 1870. In the west of Leer we sport a little hill, the Plytenberg. The Plytenberg was important, although it is only 9 metres high. In the fifteenth century it provided a view to the castle in Leerort. In the other quarter of Leer, in Loga, we have a big park, the Julianenpark. And further down the street, there is the Evenburg, surrounded by another beautiful park.

Local sporting, leisure and culture facilities

In Leer we have many opportunities to do sports. We can do football, volleyball, rowing, basketball and so on. But we feature a special East Frisian sport called Boßeln.

In summer we can eat lots ice cream in our 15 ice-cream parlours. We can borrow books from libraries or we can visit museums like Bünting’s tea museum.

Shopping Facilities and services

Multi is a family-owned huge supermarket in Leer. In Leer are two Multi shops, one of them is near the Leda, the other near the Julianenpark. The Multi shop near the Leda is part of a shopping mall, where we have Expert Bening, an electronics market.

When you like dancing, you can go to the dancing school Schrock Opitz. We have nail studios, and shops like H&M or Tally Weijl for clothes.

Local offices and institutions supporting small business

If you want to found a facility, you can get help from persons like accountants, business consultants and business developers. When you need start-up money, you can get money from supporting organisations. There are many rules, for example you have to register your business with the administrative district. Or: you only have to be seven years of age to be allowed to found a business, but your parents will have to guide you.

Leer, like most places in Germany, levies many taxes for businesses, which you have to pay when you open a small business. In Germany are different types of business. Thesmalles type is the micro-enterprise, for which you need at least ten employees with more than 2,000,000 euros. The biggest type is the large-enterprise with more than 250 employees and more than 50,000,000 euros annual turnover.

This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

The Ubbo-Emmius-Gymnasium


What our school, the Ubbo-Emmius-Gymnasium, is like

The UEG is a big school spread over several buildings. At the school there are about 100 teachers and 1400 pupils, with 25-30 pupils in one class.UEG1

We don’t wear school uniforms, but we have to wear appropriate clothes. We have five schooldays, Monday to Friday. We go to school by bus, by bike, by longboard or on foot, sometimes our parents take us to school by car. The older pupils sometimes have their own cars or motorcycles.

Before we can attend a gymnasium, the German word for grammar school, we go to primary school for four years. The length of the gymnasium is being changed back from eight to nine years; currently, the ninth grades and above will finish after 12 years altogether, the 8th grades and below after 13.

In German schools there are three main fields of education: German and three foreign languages (English, French and Latin), four natural sciences, five humanities and music, art, and sport. In addition to these regular subjects, we can choose even more, for example Old Greece. You can also choose Latin or French as a third language, music or sciences. These options start in grade 8, either as normal lessons or in so-called profiles, where we do extracurricular topics. These profile classes also start in grade 8.

The lessons start at 7.45 a.m. in 45-minute units. Most of the lessons are double periods, so they usually take 90 minutes, with a 5-minute-breaks in between. This means we mostly have three doubles in the mornings, ending at 1:05 p.m.

After a double, there are longer breaks; the first one 15 minutes and the second one 20 minutes long. Older students have nine lessons a day twice a week. In the 7th period we have a lunch break. We have a cafeteria, where we can buy lunch and snacks. After lunch there are school activities and clubs, for example the school symphonic orchestra, the school choir, sport clubs, language and science clubs, drama workshops and many others (see our website). These clubs are voluntary.

The UEG has got seven buildings: the main building with the Altbau (old wing) and the Neubau (new wing) for the 7th grades and the upper secondary, the pavilion for the 5th and 6th grades, the Ostersteg (9th and 10th grades), the Ludgeri building (8th grades), and three gyms. The laboratories for the natural sciences are all in the new building, whereas the old building consists mainly of art and music rooms and the administration facilities, such as the secretary’s office, the headmaster’s office and the staff room. We also have a large gym and two buildings which are used exclusively for classrooms.

When we have problems in school, students from higher grades offer tuitions. Here, we can catch up on the things we have not understood well enough in the regular lessons. This way, we can avoid the danger of having to stay in our grade one year longer if we have failed some subjects, or even to leave the school and attend another level of education.

About every second year we can go on a class trip. The first is in grade 5 for the newcomers to get to know each other. The second class trip depends on the teacher, so the next one might be in grade 6, followed by another in grade 7, 8 or 9. The last excursion goes to Berlin at the end of class 10.

Sometimes we have parties, like at Halloween, organised by the pupils in grade 11. They use the money for their senior prom.

All in all we can say that life at the UEG is pleasant, with nice and friendly pupils and teachers.

This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.