Sales Representative in Germany

Overview by

Commercial Intermediaries

Trading Companies
  • Type of Organization
Most of the small and medium sized companies in Germany use third parties or structures to deal independently on the market.  The most significant of these are franchises, commercial agents and distributors whereare big companies use central purchasing agencies.
  • Main Actors
The main players in the food industry distribution business are Edeka, Rewe, and Aldi. The biggest garment department store is C&A whereas hardware, Obi dominates.
  • Type of Organization
There are three types of wholesale markets in Germany: the self-service (Cash and carry) wholesale, wholesale by grouping together orders (Zustellgrosshandel) and the mass wholesale (Grossverbraucherzustelldienst) which is for the big companies' market.
  • Main Actors
Edeka , Rewe , Aldi , Markant (cooperative sale group in supermarket retail) and Metro (Supermarket retailer).
Useful Resources
Association for the promotion of interests of German wholesale markets

Using a Commercial Agent

The Advantages
As they are paid on commission, they do not represent a fixed cost.
Where to Be Vigilant
Agents act for several firms and concentrate on the products which sell most easily.
Elements of Motivation
Participation according to turnover.
The Average Amount of Commission
Breach of Contract
Consult an example of a contract here (German only).
Finding a Commercial Agent
Commercial agents' organization
Find Sales and Distribution Service Providers in Germany on

Setting Up a Commercial Unit

The Advantages
Setting up on locally reassures potential customers because it shows a long term commitment.
Where to Be Vigilant
Be careful of fixed costs: rent, wages, cars for sales persons.
Different Possible Forms of Settlement
  • A Representative Office
At first sight it is provisional, less difficult to manage in case of withdrawal as it does not come under German law.
  • A Branch Office
Franchise is the quickest method of forming a company for a foreigner however, it has some inconveniences.  In effect, the mother company has complete liability with regard to the operations of the franchise.  Specifically significant and large extra operating expenses could be incurred with the tax authorities when calculating taxes and liabilities.
  • A Company
A company comes under German law. It is more difficult to manage but is more reassuring as far as the customers are concerned.


Evolution of the Sector
Germany has a mature franchise market, with local businessmen who have developed many sophisticated concepts. These franchises are mainly in the service sector (45%), commercial sector (37%), gastronomic sector (10%) and in building sector (8%).
Some Big Franchises
Quelle, various products
Kamps, baker
McDonald's, fast food
Spar, food
Ikea, furnitures
For Further Information
German Franchise Federation

Finding Assistance

Export Trading Companies
German Investment promotion Agency
Find more on about Selling to Germany.

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    Internationalization Consulting, Brazil