The Ulla Popken Story


It all began in 1880, in the town of Hameln on the river Weser, Johann Popken founded the Popken Textile company. Decades later in 1960, his son Karl Friedrich Popken, suffering from ill-health was forced to lease the company out on a long-term basis. His son and successor, Friedrich Popken, was only 20 at the time. By 1968, Friedrich Popken, now happily married and father to a young daughter, had opened his first store in Oldenburg called “Mami & Baby” with his wife Ursula, specialising in maternity and baby wear.

After initial start-up difficulties and numerous experiments, a concept emerged in 1978 for a nationwide chain of maternity retail stores, and set the basis for a quickly expanding retail business in womens’ wear. 1978 saw the first 3 specialist maternity retail stores open in Bremen, Hannover and Hamburg and were quickly followed by more. These laid the foundations for entering the mail order market, at first operating from the attic of the Popken family home in Rastede. The major breakthrough came 1984 with the start of a franchise operation, making the company the market leader in maternity wear. This was, however, only the beginning of a greater success story, discovered only by chance….

So how did it all come about?

Friedrich Popken had watched an employee pack more than 15 maternity items to be sent to a mail order customer. This led him to ask the employee why a pregnant woman would order so many items. The answer was unexpected “ This customer isn’t pregnant. She orders regularly and has written to us explaining that she can’t find young fashion in a size 22, the size she needs. She orders from us because our maternity fashion is not only young, but also comfortable.” A niche in the market for “young fashion in plus sizes” was discovered and, in 1986, extensive and carefully planned tests were carried out over the mail order channel. The results exceeded all expectations, and the company “Ulla Popken,Young Fashion Starting at size 16” was registered on the 1st of March 1987

That same year, 10 new Ulla Popken retail stores were opened, and paved the way for unparalleled success and expansion. On the 11th of March 2008, a new generation took over the business. Friederich Popken transferred his majority interest over to his daughter Astrid, and son-in-law Thomas Schneider.

On July 1st. 2008 Mr Schneider took up his role in the firm as managing partner.

Ulla Popken today:

Ulla Popken fashion offers all women today the opportunity to develop their own style -regardless of her size. With the theme “Fashion that suits me!” The Ulla Popken label presents it`s customers with a changing collection every month. As a multi -channel concern Ulla Popken sells in over 300 stores, by mail order and internet and with the help of selected franchise partners in Europe and non-European countries and also with shop-in-shop partners.

Over 2.000 employees are today engaged in serving our customers with passion and dedication. Our advice , our experience and our know-how are appreciated by all our customers. Our wide range of fashion values high quality with good fitting and guarantees inspiration as well as continuing new trends: Fashion for every day, feminine business outfits, fashion for special occasions together with lingerie , sport and swimwear.

At Ulla Popken , every women can find the fashion which suits her - and that has been the case for the last 20 years.