In conversation with Janik Schenke, Managing Director Schenke Delikatessen GmbH & Co. KG

The Schenke family of entrepreneurs from North Rhine-Westphalia has been running successful grocery stores since 1934 and is now in its 4th generation.

Janik Schenke, managing director of the family business together with father Reiner and brother Robin, talks in this interview about his visions, challenges and their solutions as well as the cooperation with Schweitzer.


Mr. Schenke, you have been working in the family business since 2010, since 2019 as Managing Director alongside your father Reiner Schenke, and since 2021 also with your brother Robin Schenke.

What are your plans for the future of your company?

Our main goal is certainly continuous improvement in all areas. Accordingly, in recent years we have given and implemented many new impulses in the areas of sales, IT and human resources. It is very important to us never to lose sight of our personnel. Fortunately, we have very good employees in management positions, whom we would like to involve even more in the future.

One of the objectives is also to continue to work well and successfully within the family alliance. My brother and I are firmly established in the family business, our parents are still relatively young and are also still involved. Nevertheless, generational change is a relevant topic for us, which we are driving forward bit by bit in a sustainable way. In my opinion, we manage the balancing act between tradition and further progression well. We are aware of the good things that our great-grandparents and grandparents have built up and carry them on to the next generation. Focal points such as our coffee roasting plant, our own production of salads and other fresh foods, as well as our delicatessen department are flagships and sales drivers in our stores.

In the last 3 years we have also focused strongly on expansion and have further projects on the cards for the future. The cooperation with Schweitzer will definitely continue, because the success of this partnership speaks for itself.

Many retail companies are currently suffering from acute staff shortages. How are you meeting this challenge?

We are also aware of this problem and work together with specialist consultants who support us in the areas of personnel recruitment and further development. As a family-owned company, we are very close to our employees, can be contacted by everyone at any time, and can therefore usually solve concerns and problems quickly and efficiently. Our size enables us to have this direct line to our staff, who benefit from sustainable decisions. For example, we offer bicycle leasing for employees and pay for gym membership. Junior staff as well as long-term employees are continuously trained, many training courses are also organized and paid for by the EDEKA association.

What role does increasing digitization in retail play in your company?

Digitization plays a very important role in our company. We are keen to ensure that our stores meet today's standards in every respect, starting with modern and efficient store construction. All our locations are equipped with fully digital displays and price displays, as well as the latest scales and checkout systems. Our customers will soon receive handheld scanners so that they can scan products via the EDEKA app, if desired, and pay quickly and easily at the checkout.

Equally important to us is our online presence, our website, which is continuously updated, as well as promotions and a positive social media presence. Our customers get all this and appreciate our efforts.

With the long-term goal in mind of making administration completely paperless, we switched to a new merchandise management system in 2023, which was driven by EDEKA. However, we are also active on our own and have developed our own small merchandise management system for our production to enable the purchase of goods from our stores via a web store and to simplify processes.

Personally, I am responsible internally for store design and an appealing product presentation. For me, it is fundamental to find a balance between our corporate DNA and the demand for digital tools in our stores. For example, we use comparatively few monitors in our areas. A personal approach is very important to our customers, which is why we achieve more with handwritten boards, for example, than with flat screens.

The Edeka Schenke supermarket in Gütersloh is now the third project that you have converted or redesigned with Schweitzer.
What do you appreciate about this collaboration?

We received enormously positive feedback from customers and employees after the remodeling of the flagship store in Gütersloh. Among other things, the entire refrigeration system had to be renewed - our specialist saleswoman in the mopro department said after completion how happy she was about the new department. Of course, this also helps to motivate the employees and spurs them on to do their best.

The cooperation with Schweitzer's store fitters is totally harmonious. I always look forward to the appointments with my contacts, we meet as equals and I like that. As I am mainly responsible internally for planning the store construction and the product ranges, the Schweitzer experts with their many years of expertise are the perfect partners. It's important to work with someone who leaves room for the merchant's ideas, who understands his language and knows how to implement what he wants in the appropriate style. This works very well with both Schweitzer and the designers at Interstore. Our ideas as a trading company and Schweitzer's ideas and visions merge and thus lead to more than satisfactory results: in short, it simply fits.

Were you able to record an increase in sales after the conversions?

The E-Center Rheda-Wiedenbrück was a new building at a new location with strong competition in the same zone. Despite the difficult conditions, we have achieved our sales targets to date.

Generally speaking, it takes longer these days to recoup the investment of a refurbishment or conversion, but this is not due to the market, but to the overall competition. You have to be incredibly good to achieve the sales you want. To this end, we rely on sophisticated store design, among other things. 

In the just renovated flagship store in Gütersloh, we achieved very good sales even before the renovation. We are 100% convinced that this store will also achieve its sales targets. Already one month after the opening we can see a positive development.

Schweitzer's sister company, the retail design agency Interstore, takes the creative lead on all projects in close consultation with our clients. Did you feel involved in the design process?

Absolutely. Interstore's designers and planners involved us in every step of the concept design process. We help decide the materials, customer flow or appropriate colors. Communication works very well and the joint development is great fun, and if I ever needed a further visualization, I only had to ask, and it was delivered. Even in the middle of the project phase it was no problem to express wishes, such as including the wine cellar in the modernization. Interstore delivered ideas quickly and without complications, which were then implemented directly. That is something very special. Interstore listens, understands our tastes and then brings extraordinary things to the space. We are a great team.