TOP E-Commerce Companies in Germany

  • Published 19 Aug 2022
  • Language: English

Germany is the second largest market for e-commerce in Europe. With total sales of EUR 99.1B in 2021, it’s ahead of France and behind the United Kingdom. Majority of the largest e-commerce companies in Germany were founded locally and have expanded their operations to other European countries over time. One of such companies is Otto (GmbH & Co KG), commonly referred to as the Otto Group. The Otto Group has several subsidiaries that are part of the TOP 10 list of e-commerce companies in Germany - for example, ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE, bonprix Handelsges. mbH, OTTO, Josef Witt GmbH, Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG).

All these subsidiaries were launched in Germany. The same is true for zooplus AG and Zalando SE, and MMS E-Commerce GmbH. Two exceptions are eBay GmbH, a US-based eBay subsidiary, and QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG, which is also a subsidiary of a US-based entity.

Data on German companies is part of the HitHorizons database. HitHorizons aggregates data on 77M+ businesses from 60 countries, including the whole of Europe. Data contains basic information about individual companies such as name, registered address, identification number, contact details, industry, SIC Code, sales performance, and the number of employees.

Otto (GmbH & Co KG) leads with the highest sales among all German e-commerce companies

The largest company is Otto (GmbH & Co KG), where consolidated sales in the last three years grew from EUR 14.2B to EUR 16.1B. Otto Group's pre-tax profit reached EUR 1.8B in 2021. That is less than double compared to 2020 (EUR 1.1B). The company's net profit in 2021 was EUR 1.8B.

The subsidiary company OTTO has also been successful in recent years and increased its sales by 13.8% to EUR 5.1B in 2021. OTTO is the original company founded in 1949, which, at that time, sold shoes through catalogues. The assortment was later expanded to include other consumer goods and clothing, and it became possible to make orders over the phone. It is currently an e-shop. OTTO grew into Otto Group and today several subsidiaries are part of the conglomerate.

TOP German e-commerce companies' sales in EUR (2019 – 2021)

Company Name 2019 2020 2021
Otto (GmbH & Co KG) € 14,258,462,000 € 14,897,307,000 € 16,182,023,000
OTTO € 3,500,000,000 € 4,500,000,000 € 5,124,000,000
Zalando SE € 6,482,500,000 € 7,982,000,000 € 10,354,000,000
MMS E-Commerce GmbH € 1,013,359,304 € 2,068,427,259 -
zooplus AG € 1,588,696,939 € 1,801,500,000 -
bonprix Handelsges. mbH € 1,740,000,000 € 1,760,000,000 -
eBay GmbH € 1,078,320,086 € 1,282,635,829 -
QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG € 890,000,000 € 978,000,000 € 1,027,000,000
ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE € 492,176,972 € 743,400,000 € 1,167,000,000
Josef Witt GmbH € 200-500 mil. € 856,000,000 € 1,092,000,000
Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG) € 817,000,000 € 848,000,000 € 993,000,000

Among the companies that belong to Otto (GmbH & Co KG), the largest one is bonprix Handelsges.mbH with sales of EUR 1.7B (2020). Bonprix is focusing on online sales of clothing and textiles.

Next is ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE, which was founded in 2014 and currently sells clothes in more than 20 countries. ABOUT YOU had sales of EUR 1.1B in 2021, when it managed to cross the billion mark for the first time in its history. In the previous year, the company had sales of more than EUR 743M. Despite the favourable growth in sales, ABOUT YOU has not been able to turn it into profit and was at a loss in the three years we monitored for this analysis. The company's net profit was EUR -122.6M in 2021.

Josef Witt GmbH is next. Josef Witt Group used to be called Witt Weiden. It started as a clothes mail order company back in 1907, that is, earlier than its current parent company Otto Group. In 2021, it reached sales of more than EUR 1B.

The last Otto Group company on our list is Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG), which was originally founded in 1925 as a mail order company selling shoes. Back in 1935, Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG) became one of the first companies to introduce the right to return goods and gave its customers an option of paying in instalments. Today, the company primarily deals with online sales of clothing and electronics, as well as logistics services and marketing. Last year, Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG) had almost one billion euros in sales.

Zalando SE has the third highest sales among TOP e-commerce companies in Germany

Among the remaining companies, the largest is Zalando SE. The company was founded in 2008 and currently sells fashion products on 17 European markets. Last year, it reached sales of EUR 10.3B (year-on-year growth of 29%).

MMS E-Commerce GmbH was founded in 1979 and focuses electronics. Today, MMS consists of two companies - MediaMarkt and Saturn - both of which are part of Cecony, which reached sales of more than EUR 21B in 2021. MMS E-Commerce GmbH alone had sales of more than EUR 2B in 2020.

The only company which sells goods that are vastly different from all the other companies on the TOP 10 list is Zooplus AG. The company, founded in 1999, sells pet products. Zooplus AG’s total sales reached EUR 1.8B in 2020. The year before sales were EUR 1.6B.

The last two companies on the TOP 10 list which are not part of the Otto Group are eBay GmbH and QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG. Both companies are subsidiaries of US-based entities. eBay GmbH is a branch of the US-based eBay Inc, which enables C2C and B2C sales through auctions. Germany's eBay had sales of EUR 1.2B in 2020; the year before it was 200 million less.

QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG focuses on selling clothes, jewellery, and other household items. A very unusual feature is that this company sells primarily through television while also having an e-shop. The company had sales of more than EUR 1B in 2021, with long-term annual sales ranging from 800 million to one billion euros.

Otto (GmbH & Co KG) had the highest before- and after-tax profit in 2021

When it comes to other financial results, complete financial data was not available for bonprix Handelsges. mbH, Josef Witt GmbH and Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG).

In terms of before- and after-tax financial results, Otto (GmbH & Co KG) is in the best position, with an after-tax profit of EUR 1.8B in 2021. That is a year-on-year increase of more than 86%. Here, however, it must be noted that this is a consolidated result of the entire group, i.e., it includes subsidiaries that we mentioned above.

Zalando SE is second with a net profit of EUR 234M in 2021. MMS E-Commerce GmbH is third with 554 thousand euros.

Profit before tax (EBT) in TOP German e-commerce companies in EUR (2019 – 2021)

Company Name 2019 2020 2021
Otto (GmbH & Co KG) - € 1,104,000,000 € 1,863,000,000
OTTO - - -
Zalando SE € 144,900,000 € 318,500,000 € 354,300,000
MMS E-Commerce GmbH € 557,709 € 598,306 -
zooplus AG € -15,900,000 € 30,300,000 -
bonprix Handelsges. mbH - - -
eBay GmbH € 22,452,981 € 15,149,503 -
QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG € 196,589,354 - -
ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE € -80,200,000 € -57,100,000 € -122,600,000
Josef Witt GmbH - - -
Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG) - - -

Net profit (EAT) in TOP German e-commerce companies in EUR (2019 – 2021)

Company Name 2019 2020 2021
Otto (GmbH & Co KG) - € 971,000,000 € 1,814,000,000
OTTO - - -
Zalando SE € 99,700,000 € 226,100,000 € 234,500,000
MMS E-Commerce GmbH € 578,227 € 554,643 € 594,063
zooplus AG € -12,067,430 € 18,930,710 -
bonprix Handelsges. mbH - - -
eBay GmbH € 13,835,087 € 19,247,636 -
QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG € 183,910,194 - -
ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE € -79,800,000 € -59,900,000 € -124,400,000
Josef Witt GmbH - - -
Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG) - - -

The only loss-making company for which 2021 results are available is ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE. For 2020, data is available for zooplus AG (18.9 million euros) and eBay GmbH (19.2 million euros).

Otto (GmbH & Co KG) had the highest profit margin in 2021

In terms of profit margin (share of net profit in sales), the company Otto (GmbH & Co KG) is in the best position - it was able to collect a net profit of more than 11 cents from each 1 euro of sales. Zalando SE was able to collect 2 cents from 1 euro of sales, and it has been at this level for the past three years. The worst is ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE, which had a negative profit margin in recent years.

Profit margin of TOP German e-commerce companies (2019 – 2021; %)

Company Name 2019 2020 2021
Otto (GmbH & Co KG) - 6.52% 11.21%
OTTO - - -
Zalando SE 1.54% 2.83% 2.26%
MMS E-Commerce GmbH 0.06% 0.03% -
zooplus AG -0.76% 1.05% -
bonprix Handelsges. mbH - - -
eBay GmbH 1.28% 1.5% -
QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG 20.66% - -
ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE -10.73% -5.13% -7.18%
Josef Witt GmbH - - -
Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG) - - -

Otto (GmbH & Co KG) has had the highest number of employees over the years, but that numbers is gradually decreasing

Otto (GmbH & Co KG), which employed more than 43,000 people in 2021, is a clear leader. If we consider the company's consolidated data, OTTO alone employed more than 6,200 people last year. Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG) with more than 5,000 employees was second and Zalando was third with more than 4,900 employees.

Headcount of TOP German e-commerce companies (2019 – 2021)

Company Name 2019 2020 2021
Otto (GmbH & Co KG) 52,558 49,895 43,249
OTTO Approx. 6000 Approx. 6000 Approx. 6000
Zalando SE 4,531 4,992 4,992
MMS E-Commerce GmbH 141 50 to 99 -
zooplus AG 713 768 -
bonprix Handelsges. mbH 3,700 3,700 3,700
eBay GmbH 50 to 99 50 to 99 -
QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG 200 to 499 3,000 -
ABOUT YOU Verwaltungs SE 1000 and above 1000 and above 1000 and above
Josef Witt GmbH 3,100 3,500 3,700
Baur Versand (GmbH & Co KG) 4,320 4,639 5,047

Otto (GmbH & Co KG) is the largest e-commerce company in Germany with the highest sales, the highest after-tax profit, and the highest number of employees on the list of TOP 10 e-commerce companies in Germany. In terms of sales, Zalando SE is second while Otto's subsidiary OTTO (GmbH & Co KG) is third.

If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact us

Martin Lindak - Analyst
Martin Lindak Analyst insights@hithorizons.com

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