Businessman who built up Haribo into international confectionary brand

Hans Peter Riegel: March 10th, 1923 – October 15th, 2013

Hans Riegel: revived and expanded the family business with his brother Paul.

Hans Riegel: revived and expanded the family business with his brother Paul.


Hans Riegel, who has died aged 90 of heart failure, devoted his life to the company that bears one of the great names of confectionery – Haribo. Building up his family business into an international brand producing 100 million sweets a day made him one of Germany’s richest men.

Johannes Peter Riegel, always known by the abbreviation Hans, was the elder son of Hans Riegel, who set up the business in 1920, registering it under an acronym derived from HAns RIegel BOnn. Hans snr set the tone for the future with a “dancing bear” sweet in 1922, and deliveries were made by his wife, Gertrud, initially on a bicycle.

In 1945 Hans snr died, and upon returning to Bonn from Allied prisoner-of-war camps, Hans jnr and his younger brother, Paul, resolved to revive and expand the business, whose production plant remained largely undamaged.

They changed the recipe of their gummy bear sweets to make them coloured and fruit-flavoured. Paul took charge of production, while Hans, who studied economics at the University of Bonn, handled sales and marketing.

When the brothers started, they had a workforce of about 30. Within five years it had grown to more than 1,000, and today Haribo employs some 6,000 people at 15 factories in several countries and has an annual turnover exceeding £1.6 billion (€1.89 billion).

Riegel is survived by two nephews. His brother Paul died in 2009.