Hans Riegel, the second-generation head of German family confectionary firm Haribo – renowned for its colourful ‘gummi bear’ sweets – has died at the age of 90.
He had headed the family firm for almost 70 years, and still held the post of chief executive at the time of his death.
He had been convalescing following an operation to remove a benign brain tumour, but died of heart failure on Tuesday, in his hometown of Bonn in Germany.
Haribo was founded in 1920 by Riegel’s father, Hans Senior, who created the name from his own name and the name of his home town – (Ha)ns (Ri)egel (Bo)nn. Following his death in 1945 the company floundered, but Riegel, along with his brother Paul, are credited with rebuilding the family firm.
Following their release from an Allied prisoner of war camp at the end of the Second World War, Paul focused on production, while Riegel was responsible for sales and marketing. He is cited with turning gummi bears into a global product (pictured right).
The company now has 18 factories in Europe and 6000 employees, and its revenues are estimated at €2 billion.
He set up an eponymous foundation in 1987 to award scholarships to students at several German universities, including his own alma mater, the University of Bonn where he studied economics.
Riegel was divorced and had no children, but famously once said: "I love children. They are my customers. I have to be informed about what they want to nibble, what they think and what language they speak."
Paul's children and representatives from Riegel's foundation have seats on Haribo's supervisory board, which Riegel set up after Paul's death. The foundation will receive Riegel's 50% stake in the company.