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Käthe Kruse GmbH

Augsburger Strasse 18 86609 Donauwörth Germany
+49 906 70678-0 +49 906 70678-70

Käthe Kruse GmbH

Managing Director Tobias Vorbach

Interview with Managing Director Tobias Vorbach, Käthe Kruse

Children for children

They are known world-wide – dolls made and marketed by Käthe Kruse. The traditional German doll manufacturer is a synonym for German premium handcraftsmanship. This year, the company is celebrating its 130th anniversary. In February, Käthe Kruse was acquired by Hape, an internationally leading producer and supplier of wooden toys. Now, Managing Director Tobias Vorbach is working on the integration of both brands in order to generate important synergies. He talked to European Business Journal about the reasons for the acquisition and the future plans of the group.

EBJ: Mr. Vorbach, Hape is a global leader in wooden toys. Why did you decide to integrate Käthe Kruse?”

T. Vorbach: “Wooden toys are hard toys. In fact, we already offer everything you can make from wood, from building bricks through to walking aids. In order to achieve further growth, we had to enter the sector of soft toys. Here, Käthe Kruse was the ideal partner for us. The company is rooted in Germany and well established in the DACH region. The management was looking for partners to expand its international market position. Both sides recognized the potential of this “mix and match” marriage. Still, we will continue to have two product worlds. Käthe Kruse is a premium brand and will stay premium. We lay great emphasis on communicating the roots of the brand.”

EBJ: “How and why did Käthe Kruse come to life?”

T. Vorbach: “It was Christmas 1905 when Käthe Kruse’s daughter Maria, nicknamed ‘Mimmerle’ was longing to have a doll she could cuddle, carry around and care for – like a real child. Max Kruse tried to find such a doll. In the end, her mother Käthe Kruse decided to manufacture one herself. She used a towel, sand and a potato to form the head – this was the first doll she made. She called it Mimmerle. As her daughter loved the doll until the potato went mouldy and the sand rippled away she continued making dolls. Over the years, she became more and more professional and tried new materials. Still, her credo was to manufacture dolls you could cuddle – a child for a child and only the hand can make what through the hand goes back to the heart. Still, this idea is the core of our brand and Mimmerle is still sold, too.”

EBJ: “What other products are marketed under the Käthe Kruse brand today?”

T. Vorbach: “A bestseller is the Käthe Kruse Towel Doll. It is available in a wide range of soft materials and colours. Also, our cherry pit sacks and our flounders are very popular. In general, the Käthe Kruse portfolio covers a wide range of toys for babies and toddlers, up to the age of six years. We have play dolls and wooden toys, puppet theatres and dolls, nursery and decoration, historical collectors’ dolls and individual gifts. All dolls are still based on the developments of Käthe Kruse. Altogether, the product program boasts around 1,000 different articles which fit into different themes.”

EBJ: “What is your vision for Käthe Kruse?”

T. Vorbach: “We will stay true to the philosophy of the brand, to develop “children for children”, dolls you can cuddle and love. We will participate on the Toy Fair in Nuremberg 2014. Our long-term goal is to become the innovative leading brand in a premium way.

EBJ: “Mr. Vorbach, thank you very much for this interview.”

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