In the end, Galeria boss Frank Bertsch's hope - "Everything must be ready in five days" - was not fulfilled: On Wednesday, the day of the official opening, the craftsmen are still screwing and sawing in many corners, you can see Employees dusting vases and flacons, while customers are already taking a look at the new floors, which were recently closed due to the renovation.

Petra Kirchhoff

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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You have a lot to look at. The Galeria, as the previous Galeria Kaufhof at the Hauptwache is now only called, has been completely modernized and rebuilt from the food department in the basement to the restaurant, all in all ten floors. Four of them are on the upper floors of the neighboring building “Upper Zeil”, which is now connected to the new Galeria on all levels. Around 8,000 square meters of pure sales area, and thus a good third of the current area, have been added in total. Of these, 1,500 were specifically for tourists on the sixth floor, the so-called Airetage, where international visitors will not only have a beautiful view of the city from now on, but will also be able to buy souvenirs and have their VAT refunded - before they maybe move over to the main building,to look at porcelain from Versace or silver bowls from Robbe and Berking. With brands such as Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren and Marc O'Polo, the value scale is also increasing in the textile departments.

A premium cosmopolitan city house

The house at Hauptwache has always been more luxurious than the Karstadt branch on the Zeil, the end of which is sealed for the year 2025.

Now the Karstadt-Haus is clearly the Cinderella on the Zeil, not only had to hand over employees, but also expensive perfume brands to the beloved sister.

According to the new Galeria 2.0 strategy, which CEO Miguel Müllenbach presented in Frankfurt on Wednesday, the branch at the Hauptwache is now even more premium, a so-called cosmopolitan building and thus one of three prototypes into which the group is gradually moving its 131 remaining branches wants to divide up and redesign it in order to adapt it to local conditions and needs and to be successful again.

Accordingly, smaller houses with an area of ​​up to 6,000 square meters are to be converted into “local forums” for daily needs.

Medium-sized houses (16,000 square meters) are becoming "regional magnets" with a lot of service. Such a pilot was also opened in Kassel on Wednesday.

According to Müllenbach, the special services there include the possibility of cleaning sneakers and printing out a police clearance certificate.

The fashion brands, which can be clearly seen in the Galeria at the Hauptwache, should also be upgraded in the stores of the regional category.

Many advantages of the Frankfurt location

Around 600 million euros are planned for the renovation of around half of the 131 branches over the next few years. "In the next five years we will have touched every branch once," announced Müllenbach. How much of it has already been spent in Frankfurt, the department store boss did not say, only named an investment of 800 euros per square meter, including the services of tenants.

Frank Bertsch, Managing Director of Galeria Kaufhof, emphasized the advantages of Frankfurt at the presentation: the density of museums, the shortest connection in a large city from the airport to the city center and the many thousands of visitors who are out and about at the Hauptwache at lunchtime, "If there is no corona". These advantages would have spoken in favor of the premium pilot in Frankfurt. "We are glad that the company seized the opportunity and undertook a holistic development at this location," said Bertsch. "A few years ago, the goods would probably only have been displayed."

Now there is a one-piece shop fitting, digitally illuminated frames, moving advertising in the shop windows.

The food department was completely rebuilt - under the new name Markthalle - with a new champagne and sushi bar and the option of opening the bakery and a small part of the shop for salads and other convenience items at seven in the morning thanks to a flexible partition.

Restaurant and roof terrace

The restaurant and roof terrace, with one of the best views on the Zeil towards the bank towers, now have separate access and can also be used outside of shop opening hours.

Events with up to 1000 people are possible.

In general, customers should come and stay because they feel good, says the department store boss.

The fact that the shop windows were opened towards the Zeil and the facade on the upper floors were torn open to let in more daylight is an important renovation detail for the Galeria boss in this respect as well.

"We want to be part of the inner city."

"We believe in the city center"

"We believe in the city center," emphasized CEO Müllenbach.

The company has hired around 2500 new employees since February.

According to Bertsch, the Galeria is in the process of increasing its workforce by 30 percent.

On the day of the opening, every hand is still needed to dispose of goods and in the evening to roll out the red carpet for 600 invited guests from politics, business and show business, including pop singer Max Giesinger, actress Barbara Becker and actor Kai Wiesinger.

Nobody thinks about the 460 million euros government loan that was necessary last year to avert a second bankruptcy of the group within a year.