Brands crossing borders 

Oberweis gets a taste of the German market

Jeff Oberweis does not rule out further developments in Germany. But in Luxembourg, a new opening is on the horizon in a few weeks’ time in Schifflange. Photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

Jeff Oberweis does not rule out further developments in Germany. But in Luxembourg, a new opening is on the horizon in a few weeks’ time in Schifflange. Photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

How to adapt to the specificities of a local market? We have been profiling foreign brands active in the grand duchy, and well as local brands that have chosen to export their products or services abroad. Today: the bakery and chocolate maker Oberweis.

In July 2020, Oberweis opened its first foreign outlet in Trier at the Hauptmarkplatz. In the 65-square-metre space, the Luxembourg brand has found a showcase for its specialities.

“My graphic designer has designed boxes of chocolates decorated with the symbols of Trier, sold as souvenirs. We also made our Breedewee chocolate cakes into ‘Domstein Pflaster’ for tourists. But that was when we thought there would be tourists in Trier,” says Jeff Oberweis, with a smile.

Between the conception of the project and its realisation, the covid-19 pandemic hit the city known for being Karl Marx’s birthplace, bringing large-scale events like Trier’s famous Christmas market to a halt.

Pastries and baked goods are popular

Fortunately for Oberweis, Trier residents are naturally curious and are willing to indulge in the sweets of the Luxembourg brand. The individual pastries are particularly popular, with the chocolate pistachio and the mille-feuille being the bestsellers. “We sell a lot of macaroons,” says the pastry chef.

Trier is profitable.
Jeff Oberweis

Jeff OberweisCEOOberweis

“Despite the strong presence of bakeries in Trier, we are selling our breads well, which was not at all expected at the beginning,” he says. “They were not included in the initial range; we added them later to meet a recurring demand from our customers.” So far, the Luxembourg company is satisfied with this location and believes that “Trier is profitable.” What’s more, this location abroad, while being about 50 kilometres from its production site in Cloche d’Or, offers logistical ease, not to mention the fact that the company is not entirely in unknown territory. Between the German border workers who know it and the Luxembourg customers who visit Trier, Oberweis can count on solid support.

Nevertheless, this incursion on the other side of the Moselle brings with it a few challenges: the creation of a German company, the search for local administrative partners, the translation of products and labels, but also the recruitment of a local team, consisting of three employees.

Priority remains Luxembourg

“You may hear that, in Germany, customers expect large portions above all. But I assure you that people know the difference, especially when they can compare,” observes the pastry chef. For him, this foray into Trier “is the first step towards perhaps other adventures in Germany.” On the other hand, the Belgian and French markets do not whet his appetite. “In Germany, I feel respect, an entrepreneurial spirit, and never any complaints.”

But for the time being, the company’s next developments are in the grand duchy, in Schifflange, to be precise. Oberweis will open a new point of sale in the new shopping centre in the Op Herbett area in September. In addition to that, the company plans to relocate its production site from Cloche d’Or to Munsbach, at a date yet to be determined.

The company was founded in 1964 in Luxembourg by Pit and Monique Oberweis and currently employs 330 people at seven sites in the grand duchy. Today, the company is run by their sons Tom and Jeff Oberweis, and behind the scenes the company is preparing for the arrival of the third generation.

This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.