Photo Porst was a German company in the photo industry with its headquarters initially in Nuremberg , later in Schwabach , which was developed in particular through the early mail-order business , cooperation with the GDR, as a specialty store chain and in the 1970s through the transformation of the family business into a "socialist" company with extensive Employee participation became known.
The trademark rights to the name Photo Porst are now owned by the Ringfoto Group.
Foundation and development
After his return from the First World War , the then 23-year-old city clerk Hanns Porst opened a small photo shop on Laufer Platz in his hometown of Nuremberg on July 1, 1919 . He discovered his love for photography as a boy: his parents' lodger, himself an enthusiastic amateur photographer, introduced Hanns Porst to photography. The money earned as a newspaper boy was invested in his first camera, and from then on, 15-year-old Hanns Porst was a photographer at all kinds of events in order to earn his pocket money and better and better camera equipment.
Soon after opening the first small shop, Hanns Porst demonstrated his marketing skills. He didn't have the money for big advertising campaigns , so one night he had the sidewalks of all of Nuremberg's main streets turned into unconventional advertising space. A number of painters and his friends decorated the entire sidewalk in large letters with the PHOTO PORST logo. The law enforcement officers quickly made sure that this unauthorized advertising disappeared again, but Photo Porst was on everyone's lips. Hanns Porst came up with a similar idea in 1925 after the opening of his third “big” store with eleven shop windows on Lorenzerplatz in Nuremberg. The evening “window shoppers” and thus potential customers, who were absent due to the somewhat remote location, were attracted by the new, at that time still unusual, night lighting of the shop windows and the building.
Customer orientation and mail order
Customer orientation was the company's basic principle. Porst's catalogs were full of testimonials , ie printed letters from satisfied customers. Only the entry into the mail order business created the conditions for the further growth of Photo Porst. Around 1925 Hanns Porst had taken over something by purchasing a large number of high-quality plate cameras : the cameras did not sell fast enough, there was a risk of getting stuck on them. So he also offered these cameras - with a generous installment model - outside of Nuremberg and met with a very positive response. From then on the mail order business was systematized and enabled the rapid growth of the company to become the “largest photo house in the world”.
Catalog and wide range
The company's wide range, cameras in all price ranges, a complete additional range and low prices (made possible by the large quantities) were the basis for the success of Porst. The wide range of the Porst catalog with its many illustrations could be studied in peace in the living room at home. Porst's communication concept, consisting of the Porst photo helper (catalog), books, occasional lists, a customer magazine and much more, resulted in good customer loyalty.
Photo Porst's partial payment model (usually one-tenth down payment or a used device, the rest in twelve small monthly installments, the exact details varied) - without credit checks and inquiries from the bank or employer - suited the Porst audience. People wanted to buy “luxury goods” but couldn't afford to pay cash for their new camera. According to Hannsheinz Porst, almost all buyers took advantage of the financing offer.
Expansion of the Porst store chain after the 1964 crisis
Turnover collapsed around 1964: shops meanwhile offered an adequate range and anonymous partial payment offers were (and much cheaper, too) available from other providers. The new competitor Foto Quelle had become a powerful competitor. The German camera industry lost massively in importance, cheap offers from the GDR and the USSR (especially at Foto-Quelle) could not stop the triumphant advance of Japanese imports and required a reorientation also at Photo Porst. During this time, Porst made the right decision that ensured the company's success for almost 20 more years. A chain of shops - supplemented by franchise partners in later years - was built up in good city locations at high pressure . And the old recipe "good service and customer friendliness" led to success again.
Hannsheinz Porst - entrepreneur, spy and socialist
With exemplary social benefits such as generous vacation arrangements, company-owned holiday homes, the construction of modern employee apartments and training facilities, Hanns Porst was a very socially minded company boss. This commitment went even further with his son Hannsheinz Porst , who took over the management of the company in 1960. Hannsheinz Porst tried in his own way to mediate between the Federal Republic and the GDR - he was not only politically active in the West in the FDP, but also secretly a member of the SED and was an agent of the Enlightenment Headquarters . In July 1969 Hannsheinz Porst was sentenced to a prison term of 2 years and 9 months and a fine of 10,000 DM for espionage for the GDR.
The socialist experiment from 1972
Hannsheinz Porst also tried to implement these ideas in his own company. In 1972 Photo Porst introduced “total co-determination” . An employee company was founded, the company and its management were handed over to the employees, and Hannsheinz Porst retired completely from management in 1978/79. From now on, the company's managers were chosen by the employees and voted out again. In 1982 the employee company failed. Hannsheinz Porst got back into the company. The Swiss company Interdiscount took over the majority of the company shares.
Although the development of the chain of stores and franchise partners continued to advance rapidly, the company was unsuccessful. After several changes in the corporate form and changes of ownership, Photo Porst AG filed for bankruptcy in 2002 . The naming rights for "Photo Porst" went to the Ringfoto Group, Kodak took over the rights for the picture business. 83 years after it was founded, what was once the “largest photo house in the world” was over.
- Hannsheinz Porst: Lived Visions - The Story of a Protagonist. BoD, Norderstedt, 2003. ISBN 3-8311-4656-X .
- Hannsheinz Porst: Wealth creation and self-determination, steps towards democratization in the Porst group of companies? Carl Backhaus Foundation. Ahrensburg, 1972.
- L.Gg.Greck and KH Rühle: The photo mail order company of Der Photo-Porst, Nuremberg, Volume 44 of the series GERMAN MAJOR OPERATIONS. JJ Arnd Verlag Übersee-Post, Leipzig 1939.
- Günther Kadlubek: Photo PORST, a company story . 2000. ISBN 3-8950-6217-0 .
- Günther Kadlubek, Rudolf Hillebrand: Kadlubeks camera catalog . Lindemanns, 2004. ISBN 3-8950-6995-7 (and previous editions).
- Catalog 1980 on Hifi-archiv.info
- Information and pictures on collection-appareils.fr
- Christoph Jehle: Photo Porst - The largest photo house in the world. heise online, February 9, 2016.
- see information in WhoisWho at http://www.whoswho.de/templ/te_bio.php?PID=2912&RID=1