World’s first sex shop shuts down, declares bankruptcy

Germany’ s pioneering sex shop chain , Beate Uhse , said Friday that it has filed for insolvency , as the empire started by a female World War II pilot fails to rise to the challenge posed by erotic e -commerce .


In its hey day , the group sold lingerie , erotic films and sex products .
Uhse began her foray into erotic business in 1946 , when she put together a pamphlet called “Document X” describing how women could avoid pregnancy .

In post-war Germany, her advice was in high demand and she sold thousands of copies of her brochures .

The mail order business thrived and the former fighter pilot and member of the Luftwaffe opened in 1962 her first shop in the German town of Flensburg .
Named Institute of Marital Hygiene , the store selling lingerie and contraceptives became the world ’s first sex shop .

Her activities often ran counter to the morality of post-war Germany and she was called before the courts in thousands of legal suits filed against her .

Yet she remained frank and unashamed about selling erotic ware.

After Germany relaxed its anti -pornography laws in the 1970s, Uhse ’s business flourished . Uhse became a household name in Germany.

Scantily – clad women handed out mail-order catalogues of sex toys and a pink -ribboned history of lingerie to celebrate the launch of shares in the company.

Her philosophy was summed up by the group ’ s chairman , Hans- Dieter Thomsen, who pointed out : “Sex is the third basic need for humans after eating and drinking . Our business is largely independent of economic cycles .”

Over the decades , Uhse expanded her empire , opening a sex TV channel , putting stores near German highways and hitching up with T – Online , the Internet unit of German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom , in an exclusive on- line shopping deal.

The group also attempted to expand its market by distributing a line of halal sex products in 2014 . But it proved unable to withstand the onslaught of online commerce .

Pornographic films , once a staple of the chain , can now be viewed online for free , while discreet online ordering rendered the existence of many brick and mortar stores obsolete.

Despite several attempts to rebrand with new stores aimed at women , the company was unable to retain its hold on the market .

The bankruptcy is the final chapter in the colourful story of company founder Beate Uhse -Rotermund , dubbed “First Lady of German Sex ,” whose frank and unashamed attitudes to eroticism transformed post- war German sex life .

“The Management Board of Beate Uhse AG has decided to take this step because in the advanced negotiations with a group of investors on a financing transaction recently , no agreement could be reached , ” board member Michael Specht said in a statement announcing the insolvency .

Specht said the group could no longer service its debt — 30 million euros of which were due for repayment in 2019 .

In October, it said its loss for 2016 was wider than expected , reaching 6. 2 million euros even before tax and interest were taken into account.

The company’s huge fall came over a decade after the death of its founder , who died in 2001 at the age of 81 .