“We have decided to take this step in order to implement the reorganization of the entire group in a sustainable manner,” CEO of Beate Uhse AG, Michael Specht, said.
Despite the brand’s high profile and a history dating back to the beginnings of the modern German state, the company had been struggling for years with image problems, declining sales and losses, reports Spiegel Online.
But according to Beate Uhse AG, its subsidiaries in Germany and the Netherlands will not be subject to bankruptcy proceedings and will thus be able to operate without restriction.
The insolvency filing comes after failed efforts to restructure a debt amounting to €30 million and disagreements with creditors.
Beate Uhse (pictured), named for its founder – former Second World War fighter pilot Beate Uhse-Rotermund, sold lingerie, sex products and erotic films in stores across Europe.
The shops were seen as leading a post-war change of attitude to sex and erotic pleasure.
Uhse, who died in 2001 at the age of 81, opened her first shop called Institute of Marital Hygiene in the German town of Flensburg.
That store selling lingerie and contraceptives became the world’s first sex shop, according to the company’s website.
Over the decades, Uhse expanded her empire, opening a sex TV channel, putting stores near German highways and hitching up with T-Online, the Internet unit of German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom, in an exclusive on-line shopping deal.
In 1999, it became the first sex goods company to list on the Frankfurt stock exchange.
The group also attempted to expand its market by distributing a line of halal sex products in 2014.
But as sex products moved online, Beate Uhse, which currently has 43 stores in Germany, suffered.
Pornographic films, once a staple of the chain, can now be seen freely online, while discreet online ordering rendered the existence of many brick and mortar stores obsolete.
“The traditional sex shops will not survive as they are,” Otto Christian Lindemann, the German group’s director predicted in 2007.
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