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Geschichte der REWE International AG

Our history

From Austria's first self-service system and Europe's first organic brand to trend-setting retail formats and Austria's first online food store offering nationwide deliveries. Overview of a success story.

The Beginnings

REWE International AG is brought to life in December 1953: Karl Wlaschek opens the first branch of his discount perfumery chain in Vienna, offering brand products at reasonable prices. The concept is so successful that just one year later, he expands into the food retail. In 1961, Wlaschek comes up with the name BILLA - for "Billiger Laden" or "Cheap Store" - and introduces a self-service system, which at the time is revolutionary.

The 1960s - MERKUR comes into being, introduction of fresh produce

The concept continues to evolve and the company goes from strength to strength: in 1966, the first 1,000 square metre self-service store opens, and shortly afterwards the consumer supermarket line MERKUR Warenhandels AG is launched. Fresh products are also introduced: products such as milk, cheese, meat, fruit and vegetables and frozen foods are added to the range. This is a milestone, making a wealth of new foodstuffs available to Austrian consumers.

The 1970s and 1980s - From a company to a group

The company continues to grow, and soon reaches group dimensions. In 1977 it becomes a corporation. The first fresh meat department opens. In 1980 the company starts its own perfumery chain in the form of BIPA. In 1983, the company enters the discount sector by launching MONDO (now PENNY Markt). New delicatess departments are added, offering a wide range of domestic and international cold meats and cheeses. In addition the MARIAN advertising studio and the Wegenstein winery are also launched.

The 1990s: The decade of innovation

The 1990s sees scanners and electronic payment terminals moving into stores, as well as the launch of Europe's first and currently Austria's leading organic brand, Ja! Natürlich. Several other successful brands are also introduced, including Chef Menü, QUALITY LINE, LOOK BY BIPA and clever. In addition, work starts on the construction of the central warehouse in Wiener Neudorf - one of the most efficient, state-of-the-art logistics centres in Europe. Expansion also continues: the company takes over 200 consumer branches and 160 Meinl sites. It also enters the tourism market with ITS BILLA Reisen, and opens its first branches abroad - in Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Romania. In 1996, the company becomes part of the German REWE Group.

The 2000s: Growth

At the start of the new millennium, REWE International AG continues to expand: it becomes involved with traditional Austrian company ADEG (REWE International AG has since acquired 100% of the shares) and successful Vorarlberg food retailer SUTTERLÜTY. Further own brands such as Vegavita are launched. In addition, the issue of sustainability is established as an integral part of the corporate strategy.

The 2010s: Together for a better life

The company strengthens its commitment to environmental products, the improvement of animal welfare, and enterprise-wide energy and climate targets. REWE International AG also score points in the field of digitalization thanks to modern sales formats - the online stores and are created. Now that BILLA's online store is delivering to every single postcode in Austria, and the brands MERKUR, PENNY and BIPA also have online stores, REWE International AG becomes not just the no. 1 corporation in the food retail, but also the leading local supplier for all Austrians. In 2016, REWE International AG takes over 25 branches of the insolvent supermarket chain Zielpunkt in Vienna and Lower Austria.