Konrad Woermann dies

Retired Namibian business pioneer Konrad Woermann, who managed the chain of supermarkets Woermann, Brock & Co. from 1960 until 1998, passed away on Friday at his home in Swakopmund. Woermann, who celebrated his 86th birthday on 29 April, leaves behind his wife Gabi, two sons, two daughters and various grandchildren.
Konrad Woermann was born on 29 April 1931. He was a pioneer in the Namibian business community when he took charge of the management of Woermann, Brock & Co. Under his leadership the chain of supermarkets across the country were extended and more branches were opened in various parts of the capital. Woermann was also a driving force of the business in Independence Avenue, which was enlarged in the early 1990’s and turned into a modern supermarket.
The history Woermann, Brock & Co. dates back to October 1894, when the “Damara & Namaqua Handelsgesellschaft mbH” was established in Hamburg to carry on trade in the German colony South West Africa. During 1913 the business was subdivided for general goods, a technical division, an agricultural division and a mining division. In Swakopmund the company erected the well-known “Woermann Haus” and the “Damara Turm” as well as the first power station in Southern Africa.
The outbreak of the First World War on 1 August 1014 put an end to all these activities as shipping of supplies from Germany became impossible. The mother company in Hamburg had lost a large part of its capital and only the branches in Swakopmund and Windhoek continued to operate at a very modest level. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the administration of the company was taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property, almost resulting in the total collapse of the company. Following the war, Wilhelm Brock took charge of the company in Swakopmund and Willem Engberts in Windhoek.
It was thanks to resourceful men such as Ascan Woermann, Wilhelm Brock, Emil Heinrichsen, Willem Engberts, Erich Woermann and Wilfred Matheis that Woermann, Brock & Co. continued to exist. After separating their capital from the mother company in Hamburg, they energetically went about reconstructing the business.
In 1950 Kurt Schmerenbeck in co-operation with Ascan and Erich Woermann built the August Schmerenbeck Haus in Independence Avenue, where in 1966 a supermarket with just three tills was opened. Woermann, Brock & Co. was the second business in Windhoek to offer self-service shopping at the time. Clients were intrigued by being able to collect their shopping items from the shelves.
Konrad Woermann took charge of the management of Woermann, Brock & Co in 1960. He greatly expanded the company and was a pioneer in the Namibian business community. In 1998 he entrusted the management to his sons Jesko and Ingo Woermann. In 2001 retired due to failing health.
After his retirement Konrad Woermann and his wife Gabi stayed in their home situated close to the Woermann-Haus in Swakopmund. He continued to play a big part in the community, despite having suffered from a stroke which left him partially paralyzed. His wife is still an active player in the business.

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