Markus tells it like it is


Our student assistant’s note book cover

This week has somehow not been going as smoothly as one would wish for. But last night, right before I feel asleep, I thought about having to go to work today and I remembered Markus. And suddenly I was all for going to work. Quite frankly, I was excited to go to work! I thought about all the things I could do with Markus, all the information Markus would teach me. Markus has the answers to questions I’ve been really interested to know.

For all of you who believe I found the love of my life in some new intern, I must disappoint you. Markus is a database. But a wonderful one. We’ve got it for a trial period and will not buy the full rights because it’s ridiculously expensive. During the trial though, we get to poke around in those lists and statistics.

Did you know Germany is home to no less than 1355 Swedish companies? Swedish entrepreneurship currently employs one and a half million people in Germany. Given the fact that Sweden only has 9 million inhabitants and Germany has 82 million, I think that is quite a decent figure. Not too surprisingly, it is H&M who is the employer to most people (more than 12 000).

But H&M are not the ones making the most money, that, instead, is Vattenfall. The company that takes the third place in terms of turnover is one whose name you most probably do not know but you have almost daily contact with them, letting them get into your pants and everything. It’s SCA, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget. They are a global hygiene and forest products company and make everything from paper towels (have you noticed the word „Tork“ on public paper dispensers? It means “dry” in Swedish. Also, Zewa Wisch und Weg, and Tempo, well-known to Germans, are SCA products.) to incontinence pads (“Tena”) and baby nappies. They even make paper for newspapers and their own magazine “Shape” is, I must say, one of the most excellent examples of corporate publishing. (I don’t even get one single free paper towel to write this.)

Volvo ranks 14th in turnover, followed closely by Gardena on the 16th place which you thought was German but no – Husqvarna has acquired the garden tool manufacturer ten years ago. Even the napkin brand Duni which Germans buy when they have special guests, is Swedish and makes some decent money operating from the little village of Bramsche close to where my mother grew up.

The last place then? It’s occupied by Swedish Match, producing snus, the typical Swedish chewing tobacco. But since there has been quite some seesaw whether or not it is legal to sell snus outside of Sweden and Denmark, I am not sure if the German branch works with sales at all. Markus says no.

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