Danish companies fly the flag for kingdom in Hamburg

Firms in diverse sectors have branches in Hamburg and metropolitan region. Danish chain-store soon to open first branch in Germany
14 September 2016
Danish company opens store in Hamburg

Hamburg is to host the upcoming Fehmarnbelt Days from September 20-22, 2016 in HafenCity University. There, delegates including politicians, entrepreneurs, academics and interested citizens will discuss how to forge even closer ties between the Elbe city, Denmark and surrounding region. And keen interest will be on how to extend co-operation in terms of infrastructure, tourism and the labour market after the planned Fehmarnbelt Tunnel has been constructed.

Hamburg as a test market for expansion 

Hamburg and Denmark already have close economic ties and 800 Hamburg-based firms including Jungheinrich, Kühne & Nagel und Beiersdorf have business links to the kingdom, according to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (June 2016). And conversely, around 250 Danish firms have branches in Hamburg. No other location in Germany hosts as many Danish firms, according to the Hamburg Business Development Corporation (HWF). Sandra Bækby-Hansen, a spokesperson for the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce, said: “Hamburg is a natural launching pad for Danish companies who wish to expand to Germany.”

Illums Bolighus to open in November

Many Danish companies have already settled in Hamburg. In April, the Danish electronics retailer, Hi-Fi Klubben, opened its first store in Germany in downtown Hamburg. Søstrene Grene, a Danish home accessories chain store from Aarhus, followed in June and opened its first German shop in the Hamburg Meile – one of the city’s biggest shopping centres. Leading Danish furniture designers, for instance, lighting by Poul Henningsen or Finn Juhl’s Pelican Chair can also be found in Hamburg. Other Danish companies are likely to follow suit and open stores in the city soon. 

The Danish design store Illums Bolighus is expected to open a new shop near Jungfernstieg in November. The Danes are leasing 1,500 square metres of shop space spread over three floors on Neuen Wall and will offer a selection of design, interior, lifestyle and fashion brands. Hamburg is also popular among Danish firms looking for a launching pad onto the German market. 

Danes among most important investors in Hamburg 

Danish firms make an important contribution to the German economy. Bestseller, a clothing and accessories company founded in Denmark, has 1,500 employees across Germany, according to figures by HWF and sells brands like Jack&Jones, Vero Moda and Only in its 500 stores. The Copenhagen-based jewellery-maker Pandora employs 700 staff in Germany making it an important employer. Markets in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands are managed from Hamburg. 

Last year, Pandora opened a flagship store in the Europa Passage shopping centre. Commenting on the development, Dr. Rolf Strittmatter, Managing Director of HWF, said: “Danish firms are traditionally among the most important international investors in Hamburg. Over 160 companies with Danish financial backing were entered in the Hamburg commercial register between 2012-2015.”

Diversity ranging from Carlsberg to Maersk & Coloplast

Danish firms in the food and logistics sectors are increasingly opting for Hamburg according to HWF’s analyses. Danish brewery Carlsberg, for instance, is moving its brewery to Hausbruch, south of the Elbe, where a new production site is to be built on a 65,000 square metre area. The administration, sales and marketing departments will remain in Altona. The main property in Holstenstrasse in Altona is to be turned into a vibrant new district. The Maersk Group, a Danish business conglomerate, is active in both the shipping and energy sectors and also has branches in Hamburg. And they are not alone – two bright northern logistic lights, Denmark’s Seago Line and Ancotrans also have branches in the city. Meanwhile, Ramboll’s wind energy section, Dong Energy and Total Wind are based in Hamburg while Vestas in Lübeck stands for renewable energies from Denmark. 

Medical technology and life science industry also represented 

The “land of Vikings poets and Smørrebrøds” is also an important player in medical technology and the life science industry. The Humlebæk-based Coloplast opened a branch in Hamburg during the 1980s and now has 550 employees. And the list goes on: the pharmaceuticals company ALK-Abelló is based in Hamburg-Ottensen while Lundbeck can be found in the port of Hamburg and Codan medical technology has a branch in Lensahn, Schleswig-Holstein. 

Christoffer Eckersberg & Hans-Christian-Andersen in Hamburg

Commenting on German-Dansh ties, Bækby-Hansen described relations between Hamburg and Denmark as “close and steeped in tradition”. And the region is indeed linked by a common, turbulent past, which is particularly noticeable in Hamburg-Altona. The district used to be an independent city and was part of the Danish kingdom until 1864. Danish architect Christian Frederik Hansen has left a noticeable mark on the district as well. The Christianeum secondary school in neighbouring Othmarschen is named after the Danish King Christian VI and Danish cakes and pastries can be enjoyed in the cosy or “hyggelig” Café Mikkels in Ottensen. 

Germany’s Danish minority larger than previously believed

According to a study by the University of Hamburg in 2015, around 25,000 members of Germany’s Danish minority live in Hamburg. And their total number come sto 100,000 in northern Germany. The German-Danish Association based in Hamburg goes to great efforts to promote intercultural exchange. The Danish Seemannskirche or seamen’s church between Michel and Landungsbrücken is a popular meeting point. During Advent, an authentic Danish market enjoys great popularity and offers all kinds of tasty delicacies. In Spring 2015, the Hamburg Kunsthalle exhibited works by Danish painter Christoffer Eckersberg, and an entire park in Osdorf has been dedicated to Hans-Christian-Andersen. A stone mermaid similar to the landmark in Copenhagen and a sculpture of an emperor proudly showing off his “new ‘naked’ clothes” bears witness to the Danish author’s fantastic stories.