Shaping change together.
The history of our family holding dates back to 1738. Since then, we have been developing and investing in promising business models as an entrepreneurial family.
A few basic principles have given us orientation over generations to this day. We believe in entrepreneurial freedom and its stimulating powers. Community, diversity as well as commitment and consistency in action are important to us.
HGDF in numbers
- Million EUR annual turnover
- Years of experience
- Consumer goods
- Special crafts
Diversification and long-term thinking characterize HGDF.
Christian Dethleffsen was born as the youngest of eight children into a Flensburg sailor family. Father Hans and brother Andreas died in a shipwreck near Horns Riff on the west coast of Jutland when Christian was 13 years old. This stroke of fate encouraged him not to become a captain like his father, but a merchant. In 1738, with the financial help of his brothers, he founded a trading business. Trading by sea enables a lively exchange of goods: At that time, products such as flour and peas, but also sugar cane and rum – a by-product of sugar refining – were traded. Christian chooses the motto "God grant us patience and give us happy hearts", which is still important today in entrepreneurial families and companies.
in turbulent times
After Christian's death in 1793, his son Lorenz takes over the business. He and the generations to come run the business through difficult economic times. Several wars, such as the Anglo-Danish War, which began in 1807, bring trade to an almost complete standstill and change trade relations and access to markets. Despite all the adversities, thanks to their humble lifestyle and far-sighted investments, they manage to keep the business alive and growing. After Lorenz's death in 1825, his wife Botilla ran the business for five years. She is the first woman to head the family business.
in the liquor trade
When Flensburg was incorporated into Prussia in 1864, it was separated from Denmark and its original sales markets and privileges. The Flensburg trading business also had to establish new relationships in the German Reich. In 1870 the two brothers Diederich and Hermann Georg split the business into a trading company and a spirits company. Hermann Georg continues to run the spirits business in the 4th generation. He gives HGDF its current name: Herm. G. Dethleffsen Flensburg. From now on, the family company specializes in the trade and refinement of spirits, e.g. rum, brandy, aquavit.
of the brand portfolio
HGDF is developing into one of the leading spirits houses in Germany and is expanding its product portfolio beyond rum to include brands. In 1911 the trademark rights to "Bommerlunder" and in 1930 to "Balle" are acquired. With the production and sale of branded products, the family company overcame two world wars and the currency reform of 1948. A formative phase in the company's history is the Nazi era, which is now scientifically processed: HGDF comes to terms with the National Socialists. Business is preserved and even stimulated. Too much closeness to those in power is avoided, however.
With the acquisition of the “Doppelherz” brand in 1976, HGDF begins to place its business activities on a broader basis. In 1998, HGDF decided to sell the spirits business and thus their largest and most traditional company. As a result, the holding structure is being consistently expanded. The investment portfolio grows steadily with the acquisition of further subsidiaries. HGDF is returning to its beginnings: The initial general store becomes a specialized liquor retailer and then reverts to a general store in the form of a diversified family holding company.
Today the family holding company is active in many industries. As their ancestors in the trading business trusted the captains at sea, the family today gives the managing directors of the subsidiaries the freedom they need to write entrepreneurial success stories. This is how HGDF meets the challenges and opportunities that arise from globalization, digitization, and other current changes. Since the transition from the 7th to the 8th generation, the family business is passed on to all children, which is why the entrepreneurial family is now growing continuously. As a result, the entrepreneurial family constituted itself as a separate corporate body in 2017 following a strategy process.
I see my task in the further development of our entire group of companies.
Andreas DethleffsenManaging Director
Gert BendixenManaging Director
Martina LavilleAssistant to the Management
Kristin BansemerAssistant to the Management
Meike WernerAssistant to the Management
Bernd NiendorfFinance, Administration
Anja WolfHuman Resources
Rolf RauhutFacility Management, Vehicle Fleet
Dr. Marius DethleffsenInvestment Management
Sandra MauInvestment Management – Mergers & Acquisitions
Mia JohnsenInvestment Management – Controlling