Werner Susemichel, Pioneering German Retail Legend, Dead At 81

Werner Susemichel

Werner Susemichel, the erotic pioneer and founder of the German retail chain Orion Fachgeschäfte, has died at the age of 81. He shaped the early years of the erotic trade in Germany as otherwise only Beate Uhse. The company he managed until 2004 is now run by his daughter Heike Susemichel and is meanwhile the market leader in Germany in the field of stationary erotic stores.

Like his former competitor Beate Uhse, Werner Susemichel was, from the 1960s onwards, a key figure in the early years of the erotic trade in Germany. The company’s roots go back to 1962, when Susemichel established a mail order company for »aids for marital hygiene« under the name First Class Versand.

At the beginning, the focus was on supplying a large number of condom vending machines. But the product range expanded quickly and demand grew rapidly, even a good decade after Beate Uhse’s foundation in Flensburg. The sexual liberation of the late 60’s and 70’s was already in the offing.

Susemichel opened his first store in Heuchelheim in 1965. It was only the second erotic reatil store nationwide, the first one had been founded by Beate Uhse. Just one year later, a branch followed in Essen, and numerous other First Class locations were added in the following years. The chain became the nucleus of the current market leader in the stationary erotic trade.

In the mid-1980s, the paths of the competitors Beate Uhse and FCV also crossed at the entrepreneurial level. Around 1980 Beate Uhse wanted to structure her succession and divided her erotic empire among her sons. The group’s mail-order business went to Dirk Rotermund, who renamed it Orion Versand in 1981 and initially agreed for five years not to open his own stores.

In 1986, his mail order comapny Orion Versand became a minority shareholder in Susemichel’s FCVs erotic chain. Up to the present day, the Susemichel family has retained a majority stake in the resulting company. The FCV stores were renamed Orion stores.

After the fall of the wall and Germany’s reunification, Susemichel was able to continue to expand its chain of stores. By the time he retired from the management in 2004, he had founded around 130 outlets and supplied the entire country with erotic products of all kinds. His daughter Heike Susemichel took over the helm.

With the insolvency of its former competitor Beate Uhse in 2017, Orion became the undisputed market leader in stationary retail. Susemichel took over several former stores from the insolvent Flensburg based company and today, despite strong online competition, successfully operates over 170 locations in Germany.

On his 80th birthday, Werner Susemichel could look back on a proud lifetime achievement and had successfully arranged his succession at an early stage. As recently announced, Susemichel died on September 23 at the age of 81. The German erotic industry has thus lost one of its great pioneers.

VENUS is also in mourning. We are very moved by the sad news and all our sympathy goes to his wife and his whole family.


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