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Reidemeister & Ulrichs


Reidemeister & Ulrichs History

Reidemeister & Ulrichs is a venerable import trading house for wine and spirits with a specialization for supplying restaurants and hotels. Its roots date back to Bremen in 1831. Since 2005 Reidemeister & Ulrichs is part of the Bremen-based Eggers & Franke Group. In 2009 the company took the lead in merging with DC Gesellschaft für Weinimporte. Reidemeister & Ulrichs is one of the leading German wine trading companies.

1831 to 1899

The beginnings of Reidemeister & Ulrichs are owed to the merger of two older Bremen wine shops on 1st of January 1831: Ulrich & Sohn and Wichelhausen & Reidemeister. The managing partners Carl Bartholomäus Ulrich and Georg August Reidemeister agreed on establishing the Sögestrasse no. 25 in Bremen’s city centre as the seat of the joint company only to move shortly afterwards to a larger building located at Pelzerstrasse corner to Sögestrasse. In 1834, Germany’s first customs and tariff union (“Zollverein”) was founded. According to customs law, the City of Bremen as a non-member was external territories, which favoured imports on the one hand, but did not allow deliveries to customers in the neighbouring kingdom of Hanover on the other hand. Therefore in 1841 Reidemeister & Ulrichs set up a warehouse at the gates of the city (Burgdamm) for the shipment of duty-paid goods. After the decease of the company founders Reidemeister († 1845) and Ulrich († 1855), the widow Anna Margarethe Ulrichs led the business together with the authorised manager Heinrich Wilhelm Bömers, a trustful employee in the company since 1850 who was appointed partner in 1857. Friedrich Ulrichs, a son of the founder, joined the company in 1866. After his early death Heinrich Wilhelm Bömers become sole head of the company. He handed over the lead in 1887 to his only 23-year-old son Heinrich Ferdinand Emil Bömers. He married the granddaughter of the founder C.B. Ulrichs. The wine shop was flourishing and when Bremen acceded to the German customs territory in 1888, there already was an increased need for storage facilities. At this time already the company’s activities included a pack house adjacent to the parent house in Sögestrasse and up to eleven additional storage locations in Bremen’s city centre. These logistics involved the high administrative costs and had to be held separately under customs seal. This led to the economic conclusion to abandon the parent house and move warehouse and office to a newly established multi-storey building with cellars in the street An der Brake, where Reidemeister & Ulrichs took its seat in 1899. Shortly before, in 1897, the company Reidemeister & Ulrichs acquired the Essighaus. This building, a vinegar factory was up for demolition. By this acquisition the unique and world-famous façade could be preserved - otherwise the South Kensington Museum might have bought and relocated the façade to London. In its interior, which was rebuilt after designs by architect Albert Dunkel, had been transformed into a popular wine bar were leased out.

Die Firmengründer Reidemeister und Ulrichs (links) und Heinrich Wilhelm Bömers, Teilhaber seit 1857 (rechts)
The company's founders Reidemeister and Ulrichs (left) and Heinrich Wilhelm Bömers (right), shareholder since 1857.
R&U Speichergebäude An der Brake
The R&U warehouse “An der Brake”

1900 to 1969

On January 1, 1900 Hans Ulrich, grandson of C.B. Ulrichs and the authorised manager Friedrich Sparkuhle were promoted as associates. In 1906 Reidemeister & Ulrichs acquired Château Smith Haut Lafitte in one of the best wine regions of Bordeaux. The acquisition underlined the importance of the sale of Bordeaux wines for the business of Reidemeister & Ulrichs. However, just after WW I this possession was lost again due to legal dispossession. 1920 Heinz Bömers, a son of Heinrich Bömers, entered the board as a partner. The currency reform in 1924 helped to normalize the wine business and the company expanded vigorously. In 1926 Reidemeister & Ulrichs took a shipment and tank plant in the free port into operation to meet the growing demand for dessert and table wines. The location An der Brake was continuously used for operating the turnover of quality wines. At the same time the production of vermouth started. In 1933, the Reidemeister & Ulrichs Corporation was founded for the import of German wines into the United States after the prohibition had fallen.

In 1932 Heinrich Bömers deceased. He had gained his reputation not only as wine merchant, but also particularly as a senator of the City of Bremen. In the 1930s the isolation of Nazi Germany and its chronic foreign exchange shortages hampered the wine trade and in particular the relations with France. WW II and the subsequent restructuring of Europe had severe implications for Reidemeister & Ulrichs - the complete loss of the storage and production sites by destruction and also the loss of important markets, which had previously located east of the Elbe River. In the early post-war years the company survived with the production of a hot beverage called Rundu. In 1946 at least the Essighaus opened its doors again in a provisional shelter. Only after the currency reform and establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 Reidemeister & Ulrichs could re-establish their extensive experience and contacts in the wine trade. However, wine trade was limited due to wine quote for a long time until it became fully liberalized with the completion of the wine market of the European Economic Community in 1970.

Das Tankschiff Vinum im Bremer Europahafen
The tanker Vinum in Bremen’s port “Europahafen”.

1970 to 1989

During the 60s, the importance of own bottling shifted towards the import of goods, which were bottled in the country of origin. The gradual introduction of the Single European Market of the European Economic Community changed the structures of the wine import trade patterns. Under these conditions, Reidemeister & Ulrichs changed in the 70s from an importer and bottler towards a distributor for brand products providing well-organized sales organization and exclusive distribution rights. The own bottling facilities were closed and the storage and logistics were outsourced. Roland Markenimporte, an entity founded in 1949, simultaneously entered into long-term contracts regarding the distribution of internationally renowned brands in Germany such as Tio Pepe Sherry, Delaforce Port, Long John Whiskey and especially Bordeaux wines of the house Philippe de Rothschild. In the early 1980s Heinz and Michael Bömers, sons of the late senior Heinz Bömers († 1978) restructured Reidemeister & Ulrichs under the umbrella of the Bömers Holdinggesellschaft. The reorganization allowed International Distillers & Vintners (IDV) a temporary stakeholdership in Roland Markenimport. Their cream liqueur Baileys was one of the company’s best-selling products. The investment assets of the holding company comprised at that time Reidemeister & Ulrichs and Roland Markenimport, both committed to the retail and hospitality sectors, the Bordeaux-based trading house CAVIF - Caves des Grands Vins Français and Bremen’s oldest wine trader, the Weinhandelshaus Ludwig von Kapff, committed to B2C trade. In 1989, the Group also acquired Château du Grand Mouëys with 80 hectares of vineyards in the Premières Côtes de Bordeaux.

Historisches Essighaus in der Langenstraße um 1907
Historical vinegar house in the Langenstrasse around 1907.

1990 to present

As in­ter­na­tio­nal spi­rits com­pa­nies ai­med for a self-suf­fi­ci­ent dis­tri­bu­ti­on Ro­land Mar­ken­im­port and Rei­de­meis­ter & Ul­richs joi­ned their dis­tri­bu­ti­on in 1994 and the mer­ger was com­ple­ted in 1995 with a gro­wing im­port­an­ce as wi­ne dis­tri­bu­tor. Brands such as Roth­schild (Ba­ron Phil­ip­pe), An­ti­n­o­ri, Lou­is Ja­dot, Ma­si and Mar­ques de Ca­ce­res enab­led Rei­de­meis­ter & Ul­richs to gain a do­mi­nant po­si­ti­on in Ger­ma­ny in the tra­de of high-qua­li­ty wi­nes. In or­der to en­su­re suc­cess in the Eu­ro­pean mar­ket, the ow­ners de­ci­ded in 2002 to sell the ma­jo­ri­ty of Rei­de­meis­ter & Ul­richs to the Dutch wi­ne im­por­ter Baars­ma. Howe­ver, the Dutch ex­pec­ta­ti­on to achie­ve with this deal a power­ful ac­cess to the lar­ge Ger­man wi­ne and par­ti­cu­lar­ly to the food mar­ket did not ma­te­ria­li­se. To the con­tra­ry, it had a de­tri­men­tal ef­fect on its long-stan­ding per­so­nal re­la­ti­ons­hips with key sup­p­liers. Sin­ce 2004, the al­so Bre­men-ba­sed wi­ne com­pa­ny Eg­gers & Fran­ke had at­temp­ted the take­over of the for­mer­ly si­gni­fi­cant com­pe­ti­tor. With the sup­port of Bö­mers fa­mi­ly’s mi­no­ri­ty sta­ke, Eg­gers & Fran­ke ac­qui­red in April 2005 Lud­wig von Kapff and as of Au­gust 1st of that ye­ar, 100% of the Rei­de­meis­ter & Ul­richs sha­res. The Eg­gers & Fran­ke Group port­fo­lio al­re­a­dy con­ta­ins Joh. Eg­gers Sohn as long-es­ta­blis­hed com­pa­ny Bre­men wi­ne tra­de com­pa­ny. In their port­fo­lio stra­te­gy, Rei­de­meis­ter & Ul­richs fo­cu­ses on the dis­tri­bu­ti­on chan­nels spe­cia­li­zed wi­ne stores and gas­tro­no­my. In 2009 the com­pa­ny, un­der the con­tem­pora­ry na­me of Ra­cke | Eg­gers & Fran­ke Group ab­sor­bed com­pa­ny DC Ge­sell­schaft für Wein­im­por­te, Rü­des­heim (Na­he), which was mer­ged with Rei­de­meis­ter & Ul­richs. In ad­di­ti­on to the main sto­r­a­ge at the head­quar­ters of Eg­gers & Fran­ke Group in Bre­men, Rei­de­meis­ter & Ul­richs ope­ra­tes both a sa­les of­fice and dis­tri­bu­ti­on cent­re in Ber­lin. Own staff and about 24 sa­les re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ves are re­s­pon­si­ble for the sa­les in Ger­ma­ny. Owed to the qua­li­ty of the as­sort­ment, Rei­de­meis­ter & Ul­richs was re­pea­ted­ly ho­no­u­red “Im­por­ter of the Ye­ar” at the In­ter­na­tio­nal Wi­ne Com­pe­ti­ti­on Mun­dus Vi­ni (2003, 2006, 2007 and 2011).

R&U Speichergebäude Auf der Muggenburg
R&U storage building located at Auf der Muggenburg.