Articles on Bechstein’s success story in Handelsblatt and Süddeutsche Zeitung

An interview in Süddeutsche Zeitung and a long article in Handelsblatt: two of Germany’s nationwide papers report on C. Bechstein’s success story in the space of a week.

On 30 April 2012, Süddeutsche Zeitung published a long interview with Karl Schulze, Bechstein’s CEO, and marketing manager Berenice Küpper. The interview was conducted by Marc Beise, who is in charge of the paper’s Economy section, and business journalist Elisabeth Dostert, and focuses on the following topics: the company’s restructuring since 1986, the takeover of a former East-German plant and its transformation into Europe’s most modern piano factory, differences between the European and American approaches towards piano-making, the importance of the Asian market, and Bechstein’s position on the global market today.

When asked about his motivation for taking over the helm at Bechstein in 1986, Karl Schulze answered: “The desire to return a traditional German company, a global brand, to the fold”. Berenice Küpper added that, “German piano-making is something unique that goes right to the very core of our sound culture. […] It takes eighteen months to make a Bechstein grand. Every tiny detail is of the essence”. Schulze sums up Bechstein’s philosophy as follows: “Our instruments have heart and soul; they move people.”

According to the group’s CEO, China and Eastern Europe are two growth markets: “In Russia, we control about thirty-five percent of the piano market for new grands and uprights thanks to the close ties between Bechstein and the Russian piano academies.” Schulze plans to retire in late 2014 and hand over the reins to a member of the Freymuth family, which owns sixty percent of Bechstein’s shares: “The Freymuth family is extremely interested in tradition and quality. They have a long history in construction and grow up with a Bechstein grand at home. So they share the same values as us.”

While the interview in Süddeutsche Zeitung deals with long-term developments, the article by Anja Müller published in Handelsblatt on 7 May 2012 focuses on the latest company results. According to the reporter, Bechstein has been facing the global crisis more successfully than other piano-makers: “In 2011, the company founded in 1853 achieved profits amounting to more than EUR 2.2 millions, i.e. twice as much as the previous year. Müller quotes Bechstein’s CEO (“Even today, it’s still possible to produce good pianos in Germany and market them successfully”), mentions that making a grand requires eighteen months and gives prices: from five thousand euros in Germany for a basic model from the W. Hoffmann range to one and a half million euros for the most expensive C. Bechstein grand piano (a special model).

Karl Schulze