EUROPEAN BUSINESS: When EMP began in the 1980s, CDs were an exciting new medium. In today’s world of downloads and streaming, shipping CDs seems almost anachronistic. Nevertheless, EMP still does it. Why was your company able to handle the digital revolution better than many other players?
Ernst Trapp: EMP has existed since 1986. Over the past 32 years, we have successfully dealt with many dramatic changes in the market. Flexibility, agility and a good sense for sustainable development is our trademark. According to data provided by the German Bundesverband Musikindustrie, the music market in Germany generated a total turnover of 1.58 billion EUR in 2017, and CDs, with a market share of 45.5%, is still the strongest segment. CD sales are declining, even at EMP, but our customers value the physical sound recording – ‘the real thing’. With exclusive collector editions and attractive bundles, we give the fans exactly what they want.
According to data provided by the German Bundesverband Musikindustrie, the music market in Germany generated a total turnover of 1.58 billion EUR in 2017, and CDs, with a market share of 45.5%, is still the strongest segment. Ernst Trapp
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: In addition to its mail-order business in 17 countries, EMP also operates physical stores – four in Germany and one in Austria. What can retailing with a physical presence achieve that mail order cannot?
Ernst Trapp: At EMP, online and offline channels are heavily interlinked, with the goal of generating traffic and, thus, sales. In 2015, we received the NEO – Excellence in Multichannel award, which shows that we are doing well in this respect. Besides our activities as an e-commerce company, the stores and our strong presence at events gives people the opportunity to experience our products, the EMP brand, and the employees behind it. In addition, regular meet & greets and autograph sessions with stars from the music, entertainment and gaming world complement our portfolio.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: A little while ago, the American private equity company Sycamore Partners acquired EMP. What has the new owner changed in terms of the structure and culture of EMP?
Ernst Trapp: Since 2015, EMP has been an independent company within Sycamore’s portfolio, which includes, among others, Hot Topic, one of the most important partners to the music and entertainment industry and a leading retailer, with an online store and more than 650 shops in the USA and Canada. Sycamore has extensive experience in multichannel sales and is well established in the entertainment merchandising business. That makes it an ideal partner for our company, ensuring continuing stability and growth for EMP, and enabling us to continue to pursue the strategy that we defined some years ago.
EMP is part of the community. Our customers love us for this and, we put the customer at the center of everything we do, each and every day. Ernst Trapp
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: What role does the strong community spirit, which connects metal fans to each other, to the musicians and, ultimately to a company like EMP, play?
Ernst Trapp: Promoting the realization of one’s own individuality is what has driven EMP for the past 32 years. It doesn’t matter if you are a music, entertainment or gaming fan. EMP’s portfolio is created by fans for fans which is enthusiastically received, whether at events, on social networks, in stores or through contact with our service center. EMP is part of the community. Our customers love us for this and, we put the customer at the center of everything we do, each and every day.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Finally, a personal question. Which rock or metal album do you especially like to listen to on the way to a business meeting, and why?
Ernst Trapp: Working for EMP is great fun, but of course, behind the success story there is a lot of hard work. To achieve an inner balance, it is important to switch off and create me-moments, to be able to start again completely recharged. The album Paranoid by Black Sabbath helps me to do this.
Interview: Julian Miller / Fotos: EMP