Establishment and History
Stiftung Mercator GmbH, Essen and Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, Zurich were founded by the Schmidt family, which has donated a substantial amount of its own assets to the foundation.
Stiftung Mercator GmbH was entered in the commercial register in 1996 and commenced its work in the following years. The foundation's first headquarters were at Rellinghauser Strasse 18 in Essen before it moved to Huyssenallee 44 in 2000. In 2008, the foundation started to focus on methodical growth. As a result, it has managed to substantially increase its budget and supplement its team with new members. In October 2008, the foundation also moved to new premises on Huyssenallee 46.
On 1 March 2008, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Lorentz took up office in the newly created function of Stiftung Mercator's President.
Former Stiftung Mercator Managing Directors are Volker Claus, Dr Josef Dierdorf, Annabel von Klenck, Robert Faulstich and Bernhard von Spiczak.
The foundation is named after Duisburg's famous cartographer and cosmographer, Gerhard Mercator. It is a name which is associated with global thinking, scientific precision and entrepreneurship. Mercator's life also symbolizes the significance of intercultural and interreligious tolerance – values that Stiftung Mercator also supports.
The Founding Family
The Schmidt family has been running a successful Duisburg-based wholesale and retail business for three generations now. The business started out in 1906 when the C. W. Jung department store was established and it entered the wholesale business in 1923 when the Karl Schmidt OHG company was founded. After the second world war, Spar-Zentrale Ruhrgebiet, P+Q SB-Warenhausgesellschaft, E+W Schmidt GmbH and Mercator GmbH were founded. Wilhelm and Ernst Schmidt, the second generation of the successful family of merchants, opened the first Metro Cash & Carry Store in Essen in 1963.
In 1964, they teamed up with fellow entrepreneurs, Beisheim and Schell, who were planning to open a cash & carry store in the neighbouring town of Mülheim-Ruhr, to found a joint company. They were joined by a new finance partner, Duisburg-based retail company Haniel, for the implementation of the third cash & carry store in Berlin. With Haniel on board, the rapid expansion of the group was possible, though by this time Schell was no longer part of it. This merger of retail companies led to the establishment of the Metro Group in 1996 with the Schmidt, Haniel and Beisheim families as majority shareholders.