125 Years. Etwas Besonderes.
CELEBRATING 125 YEARS WITH THE PEOPLE OF NAMIBIA
We live in an ever changing world of new developments and technology where time has become extremely valuable and shopping has become an impersonal experience.
There is however one constant in the sea of change and that is Wecke & Voigts, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The Wecke & Voigts Group strives to offer an enhanced shopping experience that does not add to our daily stresses, while offering a personal service that is hard to find anywhere else in the country. All this while still maintaining the basic principles on which Wecke & Voigts was founded, which are offering quality products, great service and a sense of family.
Established on 3 September 1892 Wecke & Voigts is not only the oldest family owned business in Namibia, but also the oldest business. The company’s remarkable journey started with a humble trading post in Okahandja set up by two brothers, Gustav and Albert Voigts, together with their business partner Fritz Wecke.
Trading mostly in farm supplies during the early years, business soon demanded that Wecke & Voigts start selling luxury items. Later the company began specialising in groceries, delicatessens, liquor, clothing, textiles, gift articles and cosmetics. During the late 1940s Wecke & Voigts Wholesale was established as a new division to the company to continue selling bulk groceries to the farming community.
Realising the demand of consumers to be supplied with only the best in local and imported products, Wecke & Voigts joined the Spar group in the early 2000s. In 2006 the Maerua Superspar was opened, followed by the acquisition of Hochland Spar in 2012 and the opening of the Grove Superspar and Westlane Spar both in 2014.
Although veering off into different areas of business Wecke & Voigts Retail in the Gustav Voigts Centre in Independence Street remains the flagship store of the group, recognised today as not only the oldest, but best-known and most prestigious department store in Namibia.
The Wecke & Voigts story started with and has always been about family. A deep rooted connection that even today is still evident, considering the company is safely in the hands of the 4th generation of Voigts. The company also believes in creating an atmosphere and the type of service that makes customers feel like they are part of the Wecke & Voigts family.
The new generation of wecke & Voigts
We had also realised that shopping habits in the grocery trade had changed from the seventies when Gustav Voigts Centre was built and parking garages close to the store were acceptable, shoppers now wanted same level parking close to the store entrance. The move to Centaurus Road was generally accepted, but where we still had some traditional Deli Markt customers complaining that the "store was so big" and they "had to walk such long distances" !!! However, the new MAERUA SUPERSPAR was immediately broadly accepted and sales exceeded all expectations. We realised that we were now in the "Mass market" category and not in the small store delicatessen trade ! Through the cooperation with SPAR we soon realised that our Maerua Store was over extended, not being planned and built for the volumes it was doing and we started looking for complementary locations. Thus we bought the HOCHLAND SPAR business in November 2012 with only very limited time to do a bit of upgrading to the rather run down store before the Christmas season. Grabbing opportunities we decided to go for premises in the newly planned THE GROVE MALL, to be the biggest shopping complex in the country, and WESTLANE SHOPPING CENTRE, where we liked the strategic location. Both stores were scheduled to open within six months from each other. Unfortunately shoddy workmanship at the GROVE led to numerous claims and delays resulting in both stores ready for occupation within one month towards the end of 2014, putting tremendous strain an our human and financial resources. With the great spirit shown by staff and management and the support of our bankers we managed to get both up and running to greatly complement the highest level grocery offering in Windhoek.
While spending a lot of time and effort on our expansion with SPAR we always considered development of WECKE & VOIGTS WHOLESALE in the northern industrial area, a very stable and important part of our business. Since moving into our spacious premises in Tommie Muller Street our wholesale had expanded considerably catering for and in line with the growth of tourism and accommodation offered by lodges and guest farms. We had implemented a delivery service to the main tourist areas which proved most popular. As from about 2012 we had constantly upgraded the facilities in order to remain competitive. The wholesale business is tremendously over traded and fiercely competitive with cut throat margins and only through the innovative measures of management and excellent service can we hold our own against the "giants" from South Africa and actually grow our business.
Our "Flagship" WECKE & VOIGTS store in Gustav Voigts Centre will always be our "visiting card" and will be monitored as such. In line with independence of Namibia we created a completely new store: spacious and striking through its architecture and volumes. A comment from a tourist on entering the new store: " This must be the Harrods of Windhoek" ! In up market retailing it is necessary to do extensive renovations about every seven years, when the store starts looking "tired" , this time had come, and in 2012 an extensive revamp was done.
With Gustav Voigts Centre being completely renovated and modernised at this stage, the new FNB Head Quarters complete right opposite and other developments taking place in the CBD, the future for our flagship looks bright as it definitely will bring back "feet traffic" to that part of Windhoek. While being tremendously proud of our 125 YEARS we look forward with excitement for our Company now under the leadership of the fourth generation VOIGTS together with their committed team !!!