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World renowned DIY retail guru John W. Herbert turns 80

Published: 26 April 2021 - Neil Mead

John W. Herbert, General Secretary of the European DIY Retail Association (EDRA) and the Global Home Improvement Network (GHIN), with its headquarters in Cologne, Germany, has had the opportunity to visit 53 countries with over 400 trips since he co-founded the association in 2002. He takes these opportunities to keep in contact with the 215 members of EDRA/GHIN who operate more than 32,000 stores in 75 countries worldwide and generate a total annual turnover of about 320 billion Euros. 


Born in York, England, John W. Herbert, who celebrates his 80th birthday in April this year, began his career in retail 65 years ago, in 1956, working as a Shop Assistant at the York Co-op. He came to Germany in 1962 as a soldier in the British Rhine Army. In 1965 he joined the NAAFI, the military’s retail organisation, which he left as District manager in 1975. John W. Herbert was then employed in the management of the first hypermarkets in Germany before returning to the UK and opening, as Store Director, the first Sainsbury’s/British Home Store Sava Centre in Washington Tyne & Wear. The store was Britain’s most modern at the time and one of the largest in Europe. In 1979 he returned to Germany and took on management positions in the Hypermarkets at Marktkauf and Continent.

In 1983, John W. Herbert was appointed Managing Director of Bonn-based DIY retail chain Carl Knauber. At Knauber John W. Herbert developed and realised a new generation of hobby, DIY and garden markets that revolutionised the industry - through innovative marketing and advertising concepts - which made the Knauber hobby market in Bonn a Mecca for DIY enthusiasts.

After 17 years at Knauber John W. Herbert began looking for a new challenge. In 2000, at the age of 59, he was appointed President West Coast USA of the new EXPO Design Centre at the world's largest DIY group, The Home Depot. Upon his return to Germany he was elected General Manager of BHB, the German Home improvement Retail Association. In 2002 he co-founded and became General Secretary of EDRA. GHIN, the global network of home improvement retailers, was founded in 2009.

John W. Herbert is a firm believer and lives out his personal credo in every respect: "Trade is the indispensable will to serve, trade is a matter of the heart." He sees this as an essential prerequisite for success in trade. A success for which John is an exemplary role model. Those who have had the pleasure of crossing paths with John particularly appreciate his expertise, his knowledge of human nature, his uncomplicated, open willingness to talk and, of course, his dry English humour. Unmatched is his amazing memory for names and numbers. His vast experience, his professional know-how and his human qualities make John a sought-after and valued representative and moderator for the DIY industry worldwide.

However, the lively, healthy living and sporty John W. Herbert is not yet thinking of cutting back or even quitting. As a world traveller in the field of DIY he is still in “cracking form” to continue representing the interests of the industry worldwide, on the international stage with maximum and relentless energy, and to cultivate professional connections for the benefit of the EDRA/GHIN members.


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