40 Years of ORION – From a Small Mail Order Business to a Global Player
40 years in the erotic business is a long time. The name ORION has been traditionally and competently associated with eroticism for 40 years. What began as a small mail order company in 1981, has grown into an innovative, independent and globally active group that is all about sexual wellness. Three strong sales channels are responsible for the growing success of the company: the B2C E-commerce business, the stores and the wholesale business.
Maike Rotermund is now the managing director of the family company and she will tell us about the history and values of the company:
An Unusual Start
ORION has experienced a lot over the 40 years in one of the most interesting industries in the world. However, the start was not an easy one. In 1981, Beate Uhse decided to divide her company between the stepbrothers. Beate kept the shops with her youngest son Ulrich while her stepson Dirk Rotermund and her eldest son Klaus Uhse took over the mail order business and the publishing company. A few years later, Dirk Rotermund and Klaus Uhse decided to move out of the building they had previously shared and change their name to ORION. However, something unexpected happened during the separation and relocation process which shocked everybody: after a short, serious illness, Klaus Uhse died in his early 40’s.
The Story Continues
It was precisely this start that shaped ORION and constantly forced us to find new ways, build networks and exchange knowledge. This is how a new department was created shortly after the move: the wholesale business. A small team took care of supplying ORION’s foreign branches in Austria and Switzerland – which were founded in the same year. At that time, nobody could have guessed that this small department would take on a market-leading role in Europe one day and have customers in over 50 countries worldwide.
And sometimes timing is everything: In 1986 Dirk Rotermund got in contact with Werner Susemichel who was already running several erotic stores – the FCV-Erotik-Shops (FCV erotic shops). They both decided to combine their knowledge and know-how from the stores and the mail order business during Werner Susemichel’s visit to Flensburg. They then changed the name from FCV-Erotik-Shops to ORION. Today, the ORION stores are the market leader in Germany. There are 145 stores in Germany and approx. 20 stores in Austria, Denmark and Norway.
In the mid-1990s, the first very rudimentary ORION online shop was launched. It was supervised by colleagues who still had to work out how to use the new technology themselves. However, we believed in this new distribution channel even though some people said that only 50% of the orders (at most) would ever come from the internet. Around the same time, the wholesale business invested in their own packaging, then in their own products and finally in joint product developments with inventors.
The product range and the company grew steadily over the years and this meant that the headquarters in Flensburg had to be expanded. An office block and a high-rack warehouse were built. Today, over 15,000 different items are stored in high quantities in 85,000 carton storage spaces so that we can supply our B2C E-commerce and ORION Wholesale customers, and the 165 ORION stores even more reliably. Up to 80,000 items leave our warehouse in Flensburg daily.
What Drives Us Today
Everything has revolved around love for 40 years at ORION – and love is colourful and diverse just like life. Not only is this reflected in our products, but it’s also reflected in our team spirit as well. We have fun doing what we do because we get to devote ourselves daily to the most beautiful pastime in the world which is the main thing for us.
ORION is always open to creative ideas. It’s not unusual for great innovations to be thought of during a normal conversation over a cup of coffee or a flash of inspiration at a hotel bar on a business trip. We also use external ideas to become even more innovative. For example, we work together with universities and inventors and we have already brought things onto the market with their help.
At the end of the innovation process, it is important for the ORION team to always have a high-quality product that customers can enjoy. We know that many of our products are used in the most intimate areas of the body. That’s why we adhere to the Children’s Toy Safety Directive and the strict German quality standards especially when it comes to the production of sex toys. We also give all the necessary information and certificates for the sale of the products to the ORION Wholesale customers.
The topic of responsibility and sustainability plays an increasingly important role for us as a regionally anchored family business. We have been supporting numerous social projects over the years. However, ORION is also working on the topic of ecological sustainability too. The idea of sustainability will continue to accompany us in the future and we are striving for continual improvement in order to make the working stages, products and packaging even more environmentally-friendly.
However, what makes ORION stand out the most, in all the three sales channels, is the closeness to our customers. Not only does a customer get innovative, quality-tested products at ORION, but also a colourful mixture of service and expertise. Sexuality is an important part of every person’s life. In order for it to become what it is, it’s important for people to know themselves and their body – that is why sex education is important to us. The ORION team’s mission is to be present on various channels and pass on its knowledge. We work with doctors, scientists and sexologists so that we can keep improving as sexperts. We learn from the questions we are asked so that we can constantly improve our products – for more satisfaction in sexuality and therefore a happier life!
You can find more information about the ORION group here: www.orion.eu
Specialist retailers can find more information about the anniversary products, offers and the competition here: www.orion-wholesale.com