René Benko is a multi-billionaire, one of the richest Austrians and Wolfgang Grupp a thorn in the side. The 43-year-old Benko made his billions with his real estate and trading company Signa Holding, which took over Karstadt in 2014 and Galeria Kaufhof in 2018 and merged it into one company – only to send it into bankruptcy shortly afterwards.
The young billionaire embodies exactly what goes wrong in the eyes of the 78-year-old textile entrepreneur in the German economy: the loss of responsibility at the price of megalomania and greed.
In an interview with NewsABC.net, the man who has headed the traditional Baden-Württemberg company Trigema for over 50 years and who has built it up into one of the largest textile manufacturers in the state, gives insights into his ideas for the German economy. And explains why he wants personal responsibility back to the top of entrepreneurial virtues.
“When Trigema has a problem, there is only one culprit”
According to the “Vermögen Magazin” portal, Wolfgang Group’s assets are estimated at around 80 million euros. All his assets, the entrepreneur told NewsABC.net, are in his company: “I guarantee and are liable with all of my private assets and therefore have full control over the 1,200 jobs at Trigema, because I know that if I make a wrong decision, I’m the first to pay. “
Grupp highly appreciates the knowledge of this risk, because it means that his decisions are “not exposed to greed and megalomania”, “but responsibility must come first, because I myself am the first to be fully liable.” And This risk is what the German economy lacks according to Grupp – “we need this responsibility and liability back again,” he says today.
At 78 years old and longing for the “good old days”, Wolfgang Grupp is certainly not alone. With this “back”, from which we could learn a lot today, the Trigema boss addresses the post-war period three quarters of a century ago. At that time, the economic miracle was “created by nothing but full-fledged entrepreneurs,” said Grupp.
The example that he cites to show that this is no longer the case today is the department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof.
Bold proposals for new economic growth
Because the – and its current owner – have proven what is currently going wrong with the economy: “If our constitutional state allows Karstadt or Kaufhof to go bankrupt for the second time, but at the same time the owner René Benko has the land and real estate in his left pocket and has the operating company in his right pocket, which he can then send into bankruptcy without any problems, then I am not surprised if the citizens no longer want to accept this. “
His plan to counter this is both simple and bold. Grupp suggests that “those who are personally liable with all their private assets should be granted a 50 percent tax discount”. Then the “decisions would be more responsible, more considered and above all not exposed to greed and megalomania”.
Because Grupp himself would be fully liable with everything he owns, be it logical that he also wanted to decide what was made or bought. “My employees also expect me to make serious decisions,” he says.
Decisions that made the Trigema company, which he took over from his father Franz in 1969, into an internationally successful textile company. This success is what drives Wolfgang Group. “The best thing in life is not counting money, but having the feeling that you are needed,” he tells NewsABC.net. And his family and employees would give him this every day. That is why, despite his advanced age, he is far from thinking about hanging up his Trigema polo shirt and leaving the company management to one of his offspring.