Life is progress. Our future will be determined by people who break new ground and understand the world holistically and systemically. We want to make a decisive contribution to this.
That is why the Horst Brandstätter Group is constantly on the move. We are continuously developing and creating new perspectives – proactively, as a partner to others and thus also for ourselves.
Our primary purpose lies in supporting people and systems as they develop – and enabling them to leverage new opportunities. To this end, we want to strengthen personal competencies, provide impetus and create scope for development.
We are firmly convinced that people are capable of shaping the future independently and sustainably. In a complex world full of opportunities, the need for all of us to challenge ourselves is essential – and we must gain positive experiences and build new relationships. To do this, we must be able to actively and playfully engage with new opportunities and challenges, but we also need space for reflection and regeneration.
Our business areas consistently reflect this holistic and systemic worldview.
Horst Brandstätter took the company to completely new dimensions and led it to global success. He made the impossible possible. When "HoB" first exhibited his Playmobil figures at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1974, no retailer wanted to order them. But he believed in himself and his team – achieved a global success. His passion, his foresight and his spirit as a courageous entrepreneur still provide an excellent role model for successfully driving the development of the Horst Brandstätter Group. A glance at his life reveals that he was a modern and timeless entrepreneur who never slowed down. His ability to permanently question and develop himself was decisive in turning a small company into an international group of companies.
A cherished quote from him reads:
The sentence I like least: It's always been that way!
Stages of an Entrepreneurial Success Story
The beginnings in 1876
Andreas Brandstätter (top), founder of the company, and his son Georg, to whom the company owes the name geo(rg) bra(ndstätter). In 1908 Georg takes over the company which is producing fittings and locks for caskets.
From 1926 the company is engaged in the production and sale of metal and toy products.
Production in Zirndorf 1920s and 1930s
All articles are manufactured in the production facility in Zirndorf. The senior boss, Horst Brandstätter's grandmother, also assembles at the table.
Money boxes and store articles are commercial hits, and the cash registers also enjoy worldwide success.
Start of toy production in 1926
At first, the main products were store items such as cash registers and scales, toy telephones and money boxes (left). This is a market to which the company will remain loyal for many years to come.
With the toy production, the export of Zirndorf goods to neighboring countries also begins. Catalogs are immediately printed in several languages.
Expansion of the product range - 1950s
Thanks to the new technology, further innovations were not long in coming: at the end of the 1950s, Hans Beck was commissioned by Horst Brandstätter to develop the first steerable tractor that could be sat on (oben).
German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard inspects the geobra tractor, which unfortunately only carries up to 100 kg.
Expansion of the product range 1952 Entry of Horst Brandstätter
Horst Brandstätter joins the company in 1952, at the age of 19, and brings a breath of fresh air. In 1958, sample maker Hans Beck is hired and the Americans invent the hula hoop. Thanks to his good contacts in the USA, Horst Brandstätter learns about the new craze early on and within 14 days designs a method that shapes soft, hot plastic tubes into hoops.
At the end of the 1950s, a rolling plastic horse replaces the good old wooden rocking horse. This is made possible by a new blow molding technique that saves material and weight and enables the production of larger articles.
Plastics boom - 1960s
When competition in the toy industry picks up speed in the 1960s, geobra has the foresight to start producing plastic sports boats and oil tanks at the same time. Horst Brandstätter's wealth of ideas in the plastics sector knows virtually no bounds. But the success proves him right, soon the production in Zirndorf becomes too small and a production and storage building is built 25 km away in Dietenhofen.
Many investments are made, thanks to which, among other things, water skis are developed. Although he’s always been a keen sportsman, boss Horst Brandstätter is not too keen to test them personally.
Expansion to Malta - 1970s
In 1971 a small factory is founded in Malta, Horst Brandstätter decides against the Far East. Today this factory is one of the most important employers on Malta.
The oil crisis of 1973/1974 leads to a six-fold increase in the price of raw plastic, and competition grows. Horst Brandstätter observes this development and as early as 1971 gives Hans Beck an order to develop a new product line. What is required is a toy that uses less plastic and requires less space - both in production, warehousing and shipping and in the retail space that has become scarce in the meantime.
The beginnings 1970s
Hans Beck then develops the prototype of the PLAYMOBIL® figure, which is presented for the first time in February 1974 at the Toy Fair. The idea to make play figures the center of attention is revolutionary. The system becomes a pioneer in role-playing toys for children, enhanced by new additional articles, perfectly matched to the figures,.
At the time of the market launch, the first animals were added to the range in the form of horses. Today, every child knows what can be done with PLAYMOBIL®. In the beginning, there were information sheets explaining the idea of the so-called "Klickys".
Horst Brandstätter makes PLAYMOBIL® work. The rights are secured in 1972 by a patent application in Germany. One year later, this is also done in England, France, Italy and the USA.
Hans Beck and Horst Brandstätter (top) present the first PLAYMOBIL® figures. The realization of this completely new toy system generates a demand that far exceeds all "usual" standards. Right from the start, geobra relies on print and TV advertising as well as ad campaigns and radio spots. Orders from retailers skyrocket.
In 1975, just one year after the market launch of PLAYMOBIL®, Horst Brandstätter is celebrated in the media (right) as a visionary entrepreneur. Sales increase continuously and new investments are made every year.
In order to improve the delivery situation at home and abroad, a fullyautomatic high-bay warehouse is built in Dietenhofen in 1979. This is expanded in 1992.
In the 1980s, PLAYMOBIL® founds its own sales companies to meet the increasing worldwide demand, e.g. in France, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), England, Italy, Canada and the USA. PLAYMOBIL is gradually conquering more and more new markets.
PLAYMOBIL® FunPark 2000
In 1990, the company moves into the newly built headquarters for development, marketing and sales in Zirndorf - the constant expansion requires new premises. In 2000, the PLAYMOBIL® FunPark opens its doors in Zirndorf, right next to the company headquarters.
True to the motto Play, Move and Experience, the amusement park motivates children to be active in the unique PLAYMOBIL® play worlds in maxi format.
LECHUZA® - Establishment of a new brand
With the LECHUZA brand, geobra Brandstätter 2000 enters a new market segment. Soon the high-quality planters with self-watering systems have successfully established themselves as the company's second mainstay.
In 2015, the range is expanded to include designer garden furniture with a modern wicker structure. The planters and furniture are produced in Dietenhofen, Franconia, and exported to over 70 countries.
30 years of PLAYMOBIL® 2004
2004: The classic toy celebrates its 30th birthday! Birthday wishes are received from all over the world.
In the next 10 years, PLAYMOBIL® will continue to grow steadily and write toy history. In 2014, for the 40th PLAYMOBIL anniversary, geobra honors Hans Beck and Horst Brandstätter with PLAYMOBIL-sized figures.
First licensing partnership with Porsche - 2015
The sports car icon in toy format: the Porsche 911 Carrera S from PLAYMOBIL® is the start of the licensing success story.
Further well-known licensing partnerships and cooperations will be added in the coming years.
On June 3, 2015, Horst Brandstätter dies at the age of 81. The group of companies is continued as a corporate foundation.
Further licensinge partnerships 2017 - 2021
With Sony, Warner Bros, Universal (formerly DreamWorks) and ViacomCBS, the group of companies has been able to gain strong licensing partners.
The licensing business area is growing continuously.
Franchise 2019 - 2021
With PLAYMOBIL® Novelmore and PLAYMOBIL® DINO RISE, the group of companies is taking off with the franchise business model. Accompanying the successful play worlds, the series on YouTube will become a highlight in the entertainment sector.
Horst Brandstätter Group records most successful year in company history 2021
The Horst Brandstätter Group has coped very well with the 2020/2021 fiscal year, which was marked by the coronavirus pandemic. The international group, which is active in more than 100 countries, recorded the most successful year in its company history in the year of crisis.
In the fiscal year ended March, a sales record was achieved with total global sales of over 758 million euros.