His professional life is marked by far-sightedness and a sense of proportion, innovativeness and a sense of responsibility. His social activity is infused with a sense of partnership and appreciation for the performance of others. Equal opportunity and helping people to help themselves are what distinguish this benefactor’s activities. Curiosity, modesty and an infallible eye for  the essential – that is what Michael Otto stands for as a person.



    Development into a corporate group
    For Otto, the decade of the Seventies was one
    of clear expansion as it rose to become a retail
    and services group.

    Dr Michael Otto joins his father’s company and becomes Executive Board Member for Procurement

    Günter Nawrath is Chairman of the Executive Board, having been nominated by Werner Otto in 1966 as Interim Managing Director.

    Hermes Versand Service is founded

    Otto Versand establishes its own parcel-delivery service. By the end of the year, 50 per cent of parcel volume is delivered independently of the German Post.

    International expansion begins

    The development into an international group starts with a 50 per cent shareholding in Heinrich Heine, Karlsruhe (later fully owned by the Otto Group), and 25 per cent in 3 Suisses International, France (50 per cent since 1981).

    Acquisition of majority shareholding in Schwab Versand

    Otto Versand acquires the majority stake in Schwab Versand, Hanau. The Otto Group is now the worldwide no. 3 in mail-order, behind the North American Sears Group and Quelle.


    Internationalisation of the Group
    In 1981 Michael Otto becomes Chairman of the Executive Board. With him at the helm, Otto becomes the world’s largest mail-order group.

    Dr Michael Otto becomes the new Chairman of the Executive Board

    CEO Günter Nawrath moves to the Supervisory Board and Dr Michael Otto becomes Otto Group CEO.

    Environmental protection is declared a company goal and Dr Michael Otto is named Manager of the Year

    The Otto Group confirms his pioneering role in mail-order in environmental terms too: environmental protection is declared an explicit company goal.

    Further expansion and first steps towards Asia

    The Otto Group acquires a shareholding in Alba Moda, Bad Salzuflen, founds bonprix in Hamburg, and establishes Otto Sumisho, a Joint Venture with the Sumitomo Corporation in Japan.

    Otto is ranked no. 1 in mail-order worldwide

    The Otto Group acquires the mail-order operators Witt/Weiden and Venca (today C.I.F.D.), Spain.

    Shareholdings in SportScheck and ModenMüller

    Otto acquires stakes in SportScheck, Munich, and in ModenMüller, today OTTO Austria.


    Globalisation and diversification
    Following the reunification of West and East Germany, the first half of the Nineties sees a temporary but exceptionally dynamic economy. The second half of the decade is marked by the rise of New Media. With a wide variety of engagements in Asia and Europe, Otto opts for a strategy of far-reaching diversification.

    Dr Michael Otto is named Eco-Manager of the Year 1991


    Founding of the Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection

    The Foundation’s purpose is to protect and maintain water as an essential element of life, as well as water-based natural habitats.

    Otto goes online

    Otto Versand offers its comprehensive assortment online for the first time on the Internet at:

    New Media leads the way

    The complete Otto catalogue now appears on the Internet.

    Dr Otto receives the 1997 German Environmental Award from the German Federal Foundation for the Environment.


    Expansion to North America

    Otto acquires a shareholding in Crate and Barrel, Chicago, Illinois, and also in Versandhaus Baur in Burgkunstadt.


    future-orientated innovation
    The Otto Group confirms its innovation and market leadership with ground-breaking business concepts, even stronger customer orientation and new sales channels, while continuing to drive its internationalisation and diversification.

    Otto Group becomes the global no. 2 in B2C online retail

    The Otto Group is now the second-largest online retailer for pure end-customer business in the world, behind Amazon. The Group establishes discount24,, Obi@Otto and acquires a shareholding in; goes live.

    Dr Michael Otto is inducted into the DMA Hall of Fame, New York.

    In Germany he is named Manager of the Year for a second time (following 1986).

    Founding of the Aid by Trade Foundation.


    Dr Michael Otto receives the German Federal Grand Cross of Merit with Star.


    Expansion into Russia

    The Otto Group and the Russian PPE Group (now Direct Group) establish a Joint Venture in Russia.

    German Founders’ Award for the life’s work of father and son

    Prof. Werner Otto and Dr Michael Otto jointly receive the German Founders’ Award for their life’s work.

    After 26 years Dr Michael Otto hands over the Chairmanship of the Executive Board and becomes Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

    Hans-Otto Schrader is appointed as the Group’s new Chairman of the Executive Board in October 2007.

    Dr Michael Otto is made honorary citizen of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg


    Nominated Digital Champion as part of the Wirtschaftswoche and Telekom Digital Champions Award


    Awarded an Honorary Professorship by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg


    European Economic Senate EMS Award

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