Survive with 15 percent of sales

Achenbach Delikatessen fights against the impending bankruptcy with factory sales and markets. Although the third generation of the family business is familiar with setbacks, the Corona crisis is pushing them to their limits.

Hope for better times: The entrepreneurial family Hans-Peter and Katrin as well as Sandra, Petra and Bernd Moos-Achenbach (from left)

Mith financial struggles, the Achenbachs have been familiar with their 66-year company history. Bird flu, swine fever, mad cow disease and the terrorist attack in America on September 11, 2001 were deep cuts for the renowned delicatessen manufactory in Sulzbach. However, when the married couple Petra Moos-Achenbach and Bernd Moos-Achenbach got off the plane after a trade fair in Dubai and saw the airport staff in Italy dressed in white plastic suits, the managing director had a bad premonition: she warned her family. The first assessment of the family senior came true: her children Hans-Peter, Sandra and Katrin, all members of the management, have been fighting for the survival of the medium-sized company in the third generation since March.

The tapes have largely stood still for almost ten months, which is not comparable with the temporary losses of past crises. Petra Achenbach speaks of the worst financial year since the company was founded, and daughter Katrin adds: Throughout March, she and her siblings only accepted cancellations. No more trade fairs that had to be supplied, no inquiries from catering companies, and a series of cancellations from international airlines who no longer ordered first-class menus. The same applies to the high-priced hotels and restaurants.

“All of these industries broke away as customers from one day to the next,” says Katrin Achenbach. The income has shrunk to 15 percent of the usual monthly turnover. The first 50,000 euros in emergency aid from the federal government would by no means have been enough for a food company that requires special hygienic care as soon as you press a button. Achenbach put the fixed costs at 150,000 to 200,000 euros. That is the sum you put on it month after month.

Push towards the end of the family business

It is difficult to watch helplessly how what the family has acquired for themselves and their workforce in 66 years of hard work slips between their fingers with each month that the pandemic continues, says Bernd Moos-Achenbach, who is in Frankfurt well-known cycling patron. The pandemic also fell victim to the Germany-wide Achenbach Prize, which was to be awarded to the best young chef. The younger generation, however, wants to do everything possible to fight the end of the family business. “We brothers and sisters talk our heads together, think about how things can go on,” reports Katrin Achenbach. The employees immediately had to work overtime and take vacation, but then, according to Katrin Achenbach, cuts were necessary: ​​of the 85 employees, those with fixed-term contracts were laid off. The remaining 62 employees went on short-time work.

In order to bring the fresh produce to the customers, the Achenbachs exhibition stands converted into market stalls and offered customers fine sauces, soups, terrines and salad dressings in direct sales. What was not sold was donated to the food banks in Schwalbach and Hattersheim. “As a matter of principle, no good food is thrown away with us,” say the Achenbachs.

In order to keep the company running at least a little, there is a factory sale to private customers for the first time. Instead of at trade fairs, the Achenbachs offer gourmet-level holiday dishes in “X-Mas menu boxes”. A festive meal can be prepared for four in less than 60 minutes. Whether pumpkin gnocchi or duck, ingredients and instructions as well as suggestions for those who want to go one better can be found in the box. Achenbachs even secured the collaboration of a former three-star chef for the New Year’s Eve menu. For the next factory outlet on Hauptstrasse in Sulzbach this Friday, the family is expecting a large number of visitors. The offer got around. The income is more like “a drop in the ocean”, but the employees are happy to be able to go back to work.

In view of the crisis, the Achenbachs are considering entering into gourmet food delivery with their own brand. The company could help secure this. The first concepts are in the works, says Katrin Achenbach. It is important to get the business through the crisis, business must start again in six months at the latest. Especially since the future of personnel has already been taken care of: “Our next grandchild is currently on the way, despite all the worries that is the most important thing,” says Petra Achenbach.