Stylish Menswear for Every Moment

Interview with Sascha Mader and Ulrich Franke, Managing Directors of Miltenberger Otto Aulbach GmbH

Miltenberger Otto Aulbach Daniel Hechter Casual Look
The typical casual look of Hechter Paris; here a spring coat

The brand Daniel Hechter was one of THE relevant premium brands in the menswear sector during the 1980s and 1990s. After becoming quieter around the brand in the early 2000s, it is now experiencing a strong relaunch under new management. As Hechter Paris, with new structures and a clear focus on the strengths of the brand, the company is currently successfully recapturing the international markets.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Mader, what are the reasons behind the relaunch?

Sascha Mader: The company is in the hands of the 3rd generation of the Aulbach founding family. In 2022, for the first time in the company's more than 70-year history, they handed over the management to people outside the family. These are Ulrich Franke, Stefan Hofmann, and myself. Mr. Franke and I had been working for the company for some time, but our focus had been on our license brand KARL LAGERFELD.

Wirtschaftsforum: What changes have you driven since taking over the management and what objectives have you set for yourself?

Miltenberger Otto Aulbach Daniel Hechter Formal Wear
Formal Wear is part of the brand's heritage and remains an important business sector

Sascha Mader: Our goal is to restore the old radiance to the Hechter Paris brand. To achieve this, we have reflected on the heritage of the brand. This is a mix of formal, outer, and casual wear as well as knit products. We are also reviving our traditional blue-white-red color world. The assets of the brand have been neglected for many years. We have questioned everything in the last two years and also had the courage to make contrarian decisions. One asset was and certainly is our long-standing customer base, which is based on grown trust.

Sascha Mader, Managing Director of Miltenberger Otto Aulbach GmbH
Sascha Mader, Managing Director
Ulrich Franke, Managing Director of Miltenberger Otto Aulbach GmbH
Ulrich Franke, Managing Director

Wirtschaftsforum: You have made all these decisions in a very challenging time. The coronavirus pandemic was not over yet, and the war in Ukraine had already broken out.

Ulrich Franke: That's correct. Indeed, the pandemic was a good driver for our transformation. We had to focus and quickly realized what was working well and what was not. We cut off the proverbial old braids, questioned many things. With a lot of passion and at the same time distance, we formed a new brand. That was the most important step in our transformation. We connected the heritage and themes of the family with modern management, made the legacy of the brand sustainable for the future, worked out the roots and DNA of the collections more strongly, while integrating modern influences at the same time.

Wirtschaftsforum: What exactly is the DNA of Hechter Paris?

Sascha Mader: We stand for Formal Casual and Smart Formal, for the French 'Savoir Vivre'. Our focus remains men's outerwear, modern and casual, with jersey and knit. We stand for more than suits. Daniel Hechter has a strong sports past. This gives the brand functionality and freedom of movement. Hechter Paris is credible in terms of suits but also in the casual section. With this definition, we position ourselves attractively for our existing and former customers, but also for the younger target group.

Miltenberger Otto Aulbach Daniel Hechter Modern Casual Wear
Modern Casual Wear is one of the pillars of Hechter Paris: Here a Fall Down Coat
Miltenberger Otto Aulbach Daniel Hechter Smart Formal
Smart Formal - the suits from Hechter Paris

Wirtschaftsforum: Where do you see yourself in the market now, compared to other providers?

Ulrich Franke: We are not yet a billion-dollar corporation, but rather the new kid on the block again. Our pricing policy is 'Affordable Premium', which meets the spirit of the times and is also one of our USPs. Our brand language is premium and our customers are positively surprised by the high degree of fashion at a reasonable price-performance ratio. To give flexibility to the trade, which is also experiencing hard times at the moment, we have also positioned ourselves in the NOS business.

Wirtschaftsforum: What role does the issue of sustainability play in the relaunch of the brand?

Ulrich Franke: The issue is high on our agenda. We had already set some course here before the pandemic. This extraordinary time has further fueled the issue. We are increasingly working with sustainable materials such as recycled polyester and organic cotton in our collections. Moreover, our goal is to ship completely climate-neutral. Sustainable will become the new standard.

Miltenberger Otto Aulbach Daniel Hechter Jersey Fabrics
Jersey fabrics and...
Miltenberger Otto Aulbach Daniel Hechter Knitwear
...Knitwear complements the product portfolio

Wirtschaftsforum: So, despite all the uncertainty in the market, you are set for growth this year?

Sascha Mader: Absolutely. With our relaunch now, we see a great opportunity to return to our former market position. We are fortunate to have a team of highly motivated and qualified people - together, we want to become even more relevant in the market. With our retail sales, we are already on a very good path globally. We see the potential in the menswear sector in Europe to reach a high three-digit million area.

Ulrich Franke: It is not a sprint, but more of a marathon, to become a globally relevant trading partner. Despite all these growth targets, we also want to remain a reliable partner for our employees. I am confident that we will succeed in growing on the basis of our values and satisfying all our stakeholders more than adequately.