There are around 160,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in Rheinpfalz, including over 3,000 larger SMEs. Some of them have earned a reputation as hidden champions far beyond the state’s borders, like these three. The presented companies belong to the largest companies in Rhineland-Palatinate.
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1. BioNTech SE, Mainz: 482 million euros in sales
Before Corona, the biotechnology company BioNTech was probably only known to a few experts. Since they developed one of the first vaccines against the virus in Mainz, everyone knows the name BioNTech. The company focuses on the research of mRNA-based drugs. The Corona vaccine also works in this way. Otherwise, BionTech is actually focused on immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. BioNTech was founded in 2008 by Ugur Sahin, Özlem Türeci and Christoph Huber based on many years of research. BioNTech shares have been listed on the US technology exchange Nasdaq since 2019. In 2020, the company employed nearly 2,000 people. The need for effective corona vaccines has brought BioNTech tumultuous growth – likely for years to come.
2. Werner & Mertz GmbH, Mainz: 525 million euros in sales
Werner & Mertz is a Mainz-based company steeped in tradition. It started in 1867 as the wax goods factory “Gebrüder Werner” and changed its name to “Werner & Mertz” in 1878 with the additional shareholder Georg Merz. The shoe care brand “Erdal” invented by the company has been around since 1901. At least as well known and even more important in terms of sales are the cleaning agents of the “Frosch” brand from Werner & Mertz. They include all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, special cleaners, toilet cleaners, scouring agents, dishwashing liquids and detergents. The Frosch products account for around 80 percent of sales. The green Frosch also stands for environmental friendliness and sustainability. The family-run company employs over 1,000 people.
3. Birkenstock GmbH & Co. KG, Linz am Rhein: 721 million euros in sales
The beginnings of the Birkenstock company can be traced back to the 18th century to a master shoemaker of the same name in Langen-Bergheim, Hesse. Birkenstock sandals with their typical footbed insoles can be found in many households. In addition to sandals, other shoes, stockings, belts and bags are also produced. For generations, the company was family-owned. In February 2021, the American-French private equity company L Catterton acquired the majority of the capital from the family. L Catterton is backed by French luxury goods group LVMH (LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE) and Groupe Arnault, the family holding company of LVMH owner Bernard Arnault. Birkenstock employs a total of around 5,500 people, 95 percent of whom work in Germany.
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