It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of Fielmann Group’s founder and long-standing Chairman of the Board, Professor Guenther Fielmann. After a long and fulfilled life, the entrepreneur and patron died on 3 January 2024 at the age of 84 in his Luetjensee residence in Northern Germany, surrounded by his family.
Guenther Fielmann had a clear vision and a long-term plan for his succession: In 2012, he secured the Fielmann family's decisive influence for future generations by transferring the majority stake in the Fielmann Group to a family foundation. Over the following eight years, he gradually handed over responsibility to his son Marc Fielmann.
In 2019, the year of his 80th birthday, Guenther Fielmann entrusted the leadership of the company to his son, thus completing what Professor Mark Binz, Chairman of the Fielmann Group AG’s Supervisory Board, called “an outstanding instance of a successful succession in a family business”. “Professor Fielmann was one of the German entrepreneurs of the century and a visionary”, says Professor Binz. “With strategic vision, a clear focus on customer needs and an unrivalled commitment to society, he shaped the German economy far beyond the boundaries of the eyewear and hearing aids industry.”
The heartfelt thoughts of our more than 23,000 employees in Europe, Asia, and the USA are with the relatives of Guenther Fielmann. Our sympathy and deepest condolences go out to his family, his friends, and his companions. Together we are always going to remember Guenther Fielmann for his customer-oriented philosophy, his creative energy, and his visionary spirit as a pioneer of the optical industry.
Guenther Fielmann opened his first store in Cuxhaven in 1972 based on the simple idea of putting the customer first. “YOU are the customer”, he emphasised. Convinced that “hardly any other accessory has a bigger impact on how someone is perceived by others than a pair of glasses”, Fielmann was the first optical retailer to openly display frames, provide free services, and offer extensive warranties – and all of this at significantly lower prices. Before Fielmann, people with statutory health insurance were "socially stigmatised" by their glasses, as Guenther Fielmann put it. This “democratisation” of fashionable eyewear is the historical achievement of our founder, and thanks to Fielmann, looking great is something everyone can afford today. In 2024, the Fielmann Group is the market leader in Central Europe with more than 1,000 retail stores and the industry’s third largest company worldwide.
"My father Guenther Fielmann re-defined optical retail to the benefit of customers. His lifework fills us with respect and inspires us to help everyone hear and see the beauty in the world. As we lead our family business into the future, we will retain the customer-centric philosophy, values, and humanity that have been the foundations of our success”, says Marc Fielmann, CEO of the Fielmann Group.
Guenther Fielmann knew that a company can only thrive in an intact society and environment. For decades now, the Fielmann Group has been socially responsible and given back to the communities it operates in. The family business is active in environmental protection, helps maintain art and historical monuments, supports kindergartens and schools, funds youth sports, and has been planting a tree for every employee every year since 1986, more than 1.7 million trees and bushes in total. The Fielmann Family has been supporting cultural events such as the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival for many years, opens its family estate Gut Schierensee to the public for ecumenical services during Christmas time, funds medical institutions and scientific research, and supports Germany’s public museums.
Guenther Fielmann was widely recognised for both his entrepreneurial lifework and his charitable services at local, state, and federal levels. His various awards include the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany bestowed upon him in 2016. In the same year, he was appointed honorary citizen of the State of Schleswig-Holstein. Since 2002, Guenther Fielmann holds the title of honorary professor. In 2004, he received an honorary doctoral degree from Christian Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany.
The Fielmann family, represented by Guenther Fielmann’s children, Sophie and Marc, founded the charitable Fielmann Foundation this week. The Foundation will carry social commitments into the future and will continue to support science and research, arts and culture, heritage protection and preservation, as well as environmental conservation, primarily in northern Germany.
Hamburg, 5 January 2024
Fielmann Group AG
The Management Board
About the Fielmann Group:
The Fielmann Group is a German family business that serves 28 million customers with eyewear, contact lenses, hearing aids and primary eyecare services. It operates an omnichannel platform consisting of digital sales channels and more than 1,000 retail stores worldwide. Founded in 1972, the company is led by Marc Fielmann, representing the second generation of the Fielmann Family who still owns the majority of the company’s stock. By staying true to its customer-centric values, the Fielmann Group helps everyone hear and see the beauty in the world. Thanks to the dedication of its 23,000 people worldwide, the company is consistently reaching customer satisfaction and retention rates of more than 90% and has to-date fitted more than 170 million pairs of individual prescription glasses.