Shortly before Christmas, the fashion retailer Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf suddenly abandoned the filming of a TV commercial for its online retailer, Fashion ID. Employees who had hoped the €15 million, or $16.5 million ad campaign would increase sales were among those disappointed.
The cancellation was representative of the hesitation and indecision at Peek & Cloppenburg, Germany’s third-largest fashion chain. Following a split in 1911, it is run by two distinct entities: Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf, known as P&C West, and Peek & Cloppenburg Hamburg, called P&C North.
Cautious investment, an aversion to risk and overly complex managerial structures are preventing resolute steps from being taken at the bigger of the two, the family-run P&C West, insiders say.
The company is under pressure on two fronts. First, the fashion trade is undergoing a sea change; online giants such as Amazon and Zalando as well as brand-name producers with their own stores are threatening P&C West’s business model.
Second, it must succeed in an undertaking that has brought failure to many family firms: A changing of the guard. The head of the Düsseldorf clan, Harro Uwe Cloppenburg, is 74 years old.