C. Melchers & Co. was established on January 1, 1806 in Bremen, where the global company still maintains its headquarters to this very day.
In the first few decades of the company’s history, over 30 ships sailed the oceans of the world under the Melchers flag, linking the ports of Europe, America and the Pacific.
In the 1860s, C. Melchers & Co set up operations in Asia, where all its trading interests swiftly moved. At the same time, with the onset of steam ships, it abandoned its own shipping business to devote itself entirely to extending its trading operations.
1866 saw the establishment of the first branch in Hong Kong, in the wake of which China began to develop into a key lynchpin for the company’s business. The ensuing decades were a period of rapid growth for Melchers in China, with over 2,000 people employed at 12 branches and plants throughout the country.
The First World War proved to be a setback for business relations, although business quickly recovered. It was not until the end of the Second World War in 1945 that business came to an almost complete halt. Even so, the company continued to survive, re-opening its first branches in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in the early fifties and gradually extending its branch network across Asia.
Following the opening of the Chinese markets at the end of the seventies, Melchers set up branches here again, underscoring the significance of Chinese business for the company.
With the establishment of a branch in San Francisco in the early eighties, the company also started to engage in US-Asian trade so as to gain a share of the rapidly growing trading relations between these two regions.
Trade with China remains a key focus of the company’s overall business, comprising as it does imports of special natural products and finished goods on the one hand and exports of plant, machinery and supplies for the Asian industry on the other. Yet, business with South East Asia has since also come to the fore, with the company amassing broad-based expertise in marketing and selling consumer goods in particular.
There are special departments for each article group in Bremen as well as at the foreign branches. They work largely independently within the overall company and are staffed by highly qualified experts. Over 1,000 employees in Germany and abroad assist customers and suppliers with their specialist knowledge. Rather than being based at the company’s headquarters, most of these employees are now stationed at subsidiaries, something which in turn reflects the company’s further development and the strategic alliances which it has forged.
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