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Fernand Ernster: The spirit of books

 

One family, one profession, one location. This is the story of the Ernster family, four generations of booksellers in Luxembourg.

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Once upon a time

1889. A male teacher and editor/publisher of school books had the idea, due to the proximity of a local secondary school, of making a few alterations to the ground floor of the family home in order to set up a bookshop and stationers. Back then, the pages were delivered loose and the family members would sew the exercise books by hand. When the wars came, the grandmother and her son were deported. A loyal employee stood in at a moment’s notice and stayed for 48 years. The shop survived. The arrival of teaching material in the 1960s led to a boom in business. The next twist in the tale came in 1969, when the entire district was demolished! The temporary relocation meant a loss in turnover. After the district was rebuilt, the shop rose from the ashes in September 1971. A new page was turned.

 

The next chapter

Bigger and better. The world of the bookshop changed, and there was a boom in Luxembourg culture. Fernand Ernster, the grandson, entered centre stage in 1984. New companies were created, new outlets opened and shares were bought out within the family. The sites focused on shopping centres (Belle Etoile in 1988, Center City Concorde in 1999), attracting a wider clientèle, then on town centres (Erny in 2008 and Esch in 2009). Each location specialised in a different kind of literature, be it German language, French language, fun, creative or aimed at women. Fernand was the first bookseller to have a website, and appointed a salesperson to distribute educational material to nurseries and schools. Today, he and his wife Annick are the sole shareholders, and the couple make all the strategic decisions. Cautious expansion is the watchword, and tradition is cultivated by welcoming progress.

 

An endless story

Ernster employs 60 staff today, some of whom have been with the company for 30 years, and all of whom are equally passionate. This is fundamental, even when the book world changes with every passing generation. The firm is renowned for its know-how and has won many different awards. Notably, the bookshop was awarded the “Women in Business” prize in 2007 by the Ministry of Equal Opportunities to recognise its involvement in the positive action programme. Gender equality, consideration for working time and difficulty, and internal audits contribute to a genuine social policy. The desire to continue the adventure lies at the heart of the company, and the history of this family will be written in many more pages to come, perpetuating the spirit of books.

 

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