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Company History

Zebco Europe - The company with the longest history in the branch

The beginning of Zebco Europe in Germany goes all the way back to the year 1860 when Josef Witt and Ernst Gustav Führmann founded a company under their names in Hamburg selling ropes, nets and other equipment for commercial fishing. Soon the product range was extended to include fishing tackle. The advantageous location of the business close to the harbour favoured a rapid and prosperous development of the company. Ernst Gustav Führmann successfully managed the business for 40 years, resulting in a leading position in Germany. At the beginning of the century he co-founded the company Noris Fischerei Geräte, which mainly produced spliced rods that were sold by Witt & Führman in Hamburg.

In 1918 his son Ernst Führmann took over the Company registration from his father and led the company for 30 years. After his death in 1949 his wife took over and led the company for several years with the help of the former assistant of her late husband. However, when he retired the problem as to who would lead the company arose once again as Mrs Führmann was a housewife and lacked the practical knowledge how to run a business. Eventually the Noris company was sold to the US to Shakespeare. In 1967 Mrs Führmann sold the Witt & Führmann company which had been in family hands for 90 years. Under the new management the company rapidly developed into an import and wholesale marketing business under the name Witt & Führmann, Snap Angelgeräte GmbH.

In 1974 the company relocated to Tostedt, where in the previous year they had built a warehouse with offices big enough to accommodate the business.

In 1986 the company changed ownership again, with Zebco Corporation (USA) a strong business partner was found which led to further expansion. Zebco (Owner: Brunswick Corporation) had looked for a way to establish themselves in the European market and had now found an adequate partner to reach their goals. In 1994 the company was renamed Zebco Sports (Deutschland) GmbH. At the beginning of 1996 the company moved into new premises in Tostedt, just 500 metres away from the old building.

In early 2002 the company was taken over by the executives within the framework of a management-buy-out, after the Brunswick Corporation as owner of Zebco USA had decided to sell this branch as well as their European Division.

Zebco Brands, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., acquired Zebco Sports Europe in January 2011. This move reunited the two Zebco businesses that were sold separately a decade ago. Zebco Brands, which operates in America and Asia, was purchased by the W.C. Bradley Co., headquartered in Columbus, Georgia, U.S., in 2001. The acquisition accomplished two key goals: First, it assures that the common strategies for the brands are globally established for the long term, and second, it enables stronger growth in Europe.

Within a very short space of time under new ownership, the self-imposed growth objectives were exceeded. In 2012, Zebco Europe opened a new branch office in Poland and signed up new representatives in various European countries. The ground is prepared for further expansion of market share.

Under the ownership of W. C. Bradley co. the business in Europe continued to grow necessitating the addition of further warehouse in the modern logistics park in Rade allowing for further growth potential in the future. The business continued its expansion in Europe by adding a new branch office in Poland along with sales representatives in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Denmark.

In 2021 the Zebco Brands business, including Zebco Europe, was acquired by Rather Outdoors, to form one of the largest fishing tackle companies in the world.