Höpfner retires early
Playmobil has to look for a new boss
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In the midst of an internal transformation program, Playmobil boss Höpfner is surprisingly calling it quits. The board is caught off guard. A successor is still unknown. Media reports on internal turmoil.
The Playmobil parent company is looking for a new boss: Steffen Höpfner, CEO of the Horst Brandstätter Group, has asked the advisory board to terminate his contract early. The company in Zirndorf announced this. “The advisory board tried everything to change his mind,” the brief statement said.
The outgoing manager had been CEO for seven years and had been with the company for 26 years. The farewell was obviously preceded by internal turbulence: According to reports from several media outlets, the works council had complained bitterly. “Manager Magazin” reports that Höpfner is leaving the toy manufacturer on July 31st of this year. Company patriarch and Playmobil inventor Horst Brandstätter died in 2015, and Höpfner moved to the top in 2016. The group has a complex structure with two foundations and a holding company, which has led to friction in recent years, according to various media reports.
“Fear and humiliation are the order of the day”
Höpfner's successor will be decided “promptly”, as the company said in a statement. The outgoing CEO started a transformation program that has not yet been completed in 2019, and a management consultancy has been in-house since spring 2023. “Results and measures are expected in the fall,” said the company spokesman. According to “Manager Magazin”, Höpfner seemed rather unlucky. The business development is disappointing.
Accordingly, the works council complained in a letter to employees about the “way the company has been run since the death of our patriarch Horst Brandstätter.” The legacy is being trampled on. “Fear and humiliation are the order of the day,” the magazine quotes from the document. Höpfner contradicted this in his farewell message and spoke of successful structuring in the spirit of the deceased owner. He has laid a “solid foundation for the further development of existing and new business areas”.
According to the report, the 57-year-old is quite self-critical. “The path from an owner-managed company to an international group of companies that works in its business areas with a holistic focus on the consumer is difficult for us,” quotes “Manager Magazin” from his farewell message. The transformation that started in 2019 is progressing far too slowly. “After careful consideration, I have decided to let go now,” he writes. “Also as a sign, nothing lasts forever. Change is good for everyone because it is inspiring.”