Fair. And. Square.

Alfred Theodor Ritter, Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG, Waldenbuch German Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award 2019

The colourful square chocolate bar with the “knick pack” wrapper has been satisfying the cravings of chocolate lovers for over 100 years. Alfred Theodor Ritter led Ritter Sport out of a crisis and has been pioneering renewable energies ever since. These accomplishments have earned him the German Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award 2019.

About the company

Year established 1912
Turnover 2018 489 million euros
Employees 1550

“As a family business I think in generations rather than quarterly balance sheets”, says Alfred Theodor Ritter. Sustainability, environmental and ecology are not just flowery rhetoric for the 66-year-old but "issues close to my heart" that affect everyday business life. Ritter Sport has been operating with renewable energy for more than 30 years, using packaging from recyclable polypropylene since 1991, and running its own thermal power plant since 2002. Since 2013 the ZNU-certified company has been upholding the most rigorous sustainability standards. Ritter himself has been committed to the environment for decades. He set up numerous environmental technology companies and produced one of the first electric cars in Germany, the "Hotzenblitz". As for many others of his generation, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in 1986 was a real eye opener. “The significance of environmentalism first hit home when only radioactive contaminated hazelnuts were available on the market”.

“As a family business I think in generations rather than quarterly balance sheets”,

Alfred Theodor Ritter


The other big interest in the life of Alfred Theodor Ritter is people. “The purpose of business is to improve as many peoples’ lives as possible”. He has long been supporting cocoa farmers in Nicaragua and since 1990 employs 400 at his own plantation there. “We want only the very best quality”. Meanwhile, he only sources certified sustainable cocoa for his products. “Our goal is to provide good working conditions and build long-term business partnerships”. This attitude has helped the self-confessed chocoholic catapult Ritter Sport back to the forefront of the industry – although originally he had other plans. “It was obvious to my parents that I was going to take over the reins, but I had mixed feelings”, explains Ritter. After leaving school he started to study economics, but then the father of the 21-year-old died unexpectedly. “A director from outside the family took over with the family remaining on the advisory board. “That was fine by me, and I no longer thought I would have to go into the business”. Alfred Theodor Ritter became a psychologist and for a few years ran a practice in Heidelberg. From 1982 he was chairman of the board and at the end of the 1980s restructured following internal conflicts with the management. In 2004 the company was floundering so Ritter himself took the helm. “The company is like a family member; you can’t let them down in times of trouble”. He started a radical restructuring strategy; strengthening the board and rebooting Ritter Sport as a traditional quality German brand. Today, the colourful square bars of chocolate enjoy a market share of 20% in Germany, are sold in over 100 countries and generate a turnover of 489 million euros. Moreover, the father of three aspires to making his company’s 1,550 employees “feel at home”. “I know I’d be lost if I lose people.” The family-owned company has since received multiple Best Employer awards. What was meant to be a temporary solution ultimately lasted more than ten years. Ritter stepped down from the helm at the age of 62 in 2015, but continues to be a member of the advisory board. The next generation is also already hard at work. “Ritter is and will remain 100% family owned”.

Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG

Thomas Seeger
T(07157) 97-1314


“Alfred Theodor Ritter is in every respect an exemplary entrepreneur, who early on succeeded in combining responsible conduct, sustainability and economic success”, declared the acclaimed panel of experts . This outstanding achievement has earned Alfred Theodor Ritter the German Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award 2019. “Entrepreneurs are the life blood of every society, but far too few in Germany take the plunge”, says Ritter. “The German Entrepreneur Award promotes the start up culture and is therefore important for our country.”