The Fielmann Group has shaped the optical industry. Our company was born from the simple idea to put customers first when Guenther Fielmann opened his first store in Cuxhaven. Within a few decades, the Fielmann Group democratised eyewear fashion, pioneered products, guarantees and services and eventually grew into the market leader in Central Europe as well as one of the largest optical groups worldwide.
„You are the customer“
At the Fielmann Group, we follow the guiding principle of our founder by treating everyone the way we would want to be treated ourselves. We strive to delight our customers by means of fair, friendly and competent service, irrespective of their individual budget. We interact with our colleagues as we would in our family – with respect and dignity. And we understand that a company can only thrive in an intact environment. This is why we hold true to our Environmental Pledge (1986) and give back to the communities we operate in.
We apply our customer-centric philosophy to an international and digital context to shape the optical industry for the benefit of customers. By 2025, we are going to serve 35 million active customers, sell every fourth pair of glasses on the European continent and generate external sales of more than € 2.3 billion.
As the market leader in Central Europe and one of the largest optical companies in the world, we operate stores under our own name, but also under brands such as Optika Clarus in Slovenia and Óptica & Audiología Universitaria and Medical Óptica Audición in Spain. We serve our 27 million customers with eyewear, contact lenses and hearing aids across Europe.
Our founder Guenther Fielmann
Hardly any other accessory influences the effect that people have on their surroundings as much as a pair of glasses.
Born on September 17, 1939 in the small town of Stafstedt (Schleswig-Holstein), Guenther Fielmann actually wanted to be a photographer. However, his father was not very enthusiastic about these career plans and advised him to train as an optician. Guenther Fielmann began his career at well-known companies in the optical retail, wholesale and production sectors. In 1972 he opened his first store and managed the company until he handed over the chairmanship of the board to his son Marc in 2019 as part of a long-term succession plan. The former CEO and majority shareholder is a passionate organic farmer and operates organic farming on several farms in Schleswig-Holstein.
The first store
Guenther Fielmann opens his first optical store in Cuxhaven. He formulates the guiding principle “You are the customer” and applies it to all aspects of the business: Fielmann is the first optical retailer to openly display the products, provide free services, offer extensive warranties. All of this at significantly lower prices.
Agreement with AOK Esens
At the beginning of the 1980s, anyone who could not afford expensive glasses has to choose from eight extremely unattractive health insurance glasses. Guenther Fielmann set out to end what he perceived to be social injustice. In 1981, the company signs what becomes known as the seminal agreement with the local AOK health insurance fund in the small town of Esens (East Frisia). Under this agreement, Guenther Fielmann offers the insurance fund’s members 640 different models at zero cost (“Nulltarif”). In the subsequent years, all major insurance funds in Germany sign up to this scheme. Media and politics praise the company’s founder as “Robin Hood of spectacle wearers”. Guenther Fielmann has received national and international awards for his historical achievement: the democratisation of eyewear fashion. Thanks to Fielmann, looking great is something everyone can afford today.
Fielmann becomes known throughout Germany thanks to its TV commercial featuring little Julia and her legendary saying "And my daddy didn't pay a penny for it." (“Und mein Vater hat keinen Pfennig dazu bezahlt.”). The slogan "Glasses: Fielmann." (“Brille: Fielmann.”) quickly becomes a consistent part of German parlance indicating polite suggestions to improve one’s vision.
Fielmann publishes its Environmental Pledge and commits to plant a tree for every employee every year. Thus far, the Fielmann Group has planted more than 1.7 million trees and bushes.
Expansion to Eastern Germany
Fielmann opens its first stores in Eastern Germany. In the former GDR, qualitative glasses were highly sought after, yet hard to come by and only available after a long wait. Even months after the first store openings, there were still long queues in front of the new Fielmann stores every day.
In 1994, Fielmann becomes a stock-listed company to finance its rapid growth and is the most successful new issue that year. The Fielmann family retains more than 70 percent of the shares.
Vertical integration, product and logistics centre in Rathenow
Building on the existing expertise in Rathenow an der Havel, the birthplace of German eyewear, Fielmann bundles and extends its capacities in production and logistics. To-date, the Fielmann Group employes about 1,000 employees in Rathenow who produce millions of individual prescription lenses, frames and glasses in what constitutes one of the world’s largest glazing facilities. By cutting out the intermediaries, the Fielmann Group is able to offer significantly lower prices to its customers.
The Fielmann Akademie at Plön Castle
The Fielmann Group acquires the 16th century castle that once served as the summer residence of the Danish king. Today, the Fielmann Academy at Plön Castle is the largest training and research centre for the optical industry worldwide. Every year, more than 7,000 opticians and acousticians benefit from training and continued professional development at the Academy.
To commemorate the Fielmann Group’s Environmental Pledge, our founder Guenther Fielmann plants the 1 millionth tree together with then German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the sculpture park in Büdelsdorf. To date, Fielmann has planted more than 1.7 million trees and bushes.
With more than 13,000 employees, the Fielmann Group becomes the largest optical employer in Germany. Today, the Group employs more than 22,000 people across Europe. With 4,500 apprentices, Fielmann is also the industry’s largest training provider.
As a family business, Guenther Fielmann planned, communicated and prepared his succession for nearly a decade: After working with his son, Marc Fielmann, for eight years, the company founder retires from his position on the Management Board in November 2019. Marc Fielmann becomes the sole Chief Executive Officer of the Fielmann Group and leads the family business in the second generation.
New Flagship Store
After two years of renovation, the Fielmann Group reopens its flagship store at Hamburg’s historical square. On 1,400 square meters, Fielmann showcases its new omnichannel technology, a new store design and exclusive brands. The new flagship store alone is poised to generate omnichannel sales of € 10 million in the medium-term.
Fielmann celebrates its 50th anniversary
With our anniversary, year 2022 represents an important milestone for our family business. We have achieved a lot: from the first store, opened by our company founder Guenther Fielmann in Cuxhaven on the 21st of September 1972, to the Fielmann Group with 27 million customers. Today, we are the largest optician in Central Europe and provide glasses, contact lenses and hearing aids across Europe.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The Fielmann Group is a family business. We are convinced that our enterprise can only thrive in an intact society and environment. Therefore, we assume responsibility for our customers, our people, our stakeholders and the environment. We have been active in environmental protection, the preservation of historical monuments and the support of youth sports for decades. According to our Environmental Pledge (1986), we plant a tree for every employee every year. So far, this amounts to more than 1.7 million trees and bushes. Please refer to our CSR report for a comprehensive overview of our extensive, non-financial activities.