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Tradition and Vision

Clichés are long-lasting. As are preconceptions. At first sight, Jan D. Leuze may seem like someone born with a silver spoon in his mouth. After all, he serves all common stereotypes: polished shoes. The shirt tailor-made. The traditional janker of noble wool. A seal ring on the hand. The 55-year-old is a person who polarizes by his appearance. Whoever looks more closely, recognizes the visionary who carries you away, motivates and transforms ideas into realities. There is only one thing he does not fit into, and that is ordinary moulds. That would be too tight for him anyway. After all, his ideas need space to unfold.

To understand him properly, you need to know his background. As the oldest of five children, the Constance man was born into a textile dynasty. A world of classic values. Embossed by founder courage and a sense of responsibility. But also by respect for the achievements of others. "I remember well that my grandfather let me work as a substitute during the holidays. I should learn from scratch what the success of our company was based on. I was never treated in any way special. 'Work hard and diligently,' that was his credo,' he says. Following school, it was therefore a matter of course that the entrepreneur was first trained as a textile merchant. But when it was up to him to enter the company just like his father and grandfather before, there was no longer any heritage he could have accepted. If my ancestors have inherited something to me, it is not the much-cited silver spoon, but definitely their entrepreneurial blood, the happily married father of two children admits unhampered. This also includes a preference for independence.

Until the early 1990s, he was working as a freelancer first in sales and then for the Treuhandanstalt, the German state holding company responsible for privatization of former state owned assets in former East Germany. Rescue, restructure, but also, if necessary, draw a line under a project. All this was among his tasks. "No matter what the economic decision was in the end,” Leuze says, “it was always important to me not to leave scorched earth behind." Word of this attitude spread quickly in the business. Not only in the Federal Republic. In 1992, for example, a renowned Austrian financial institution offered him a responsible position in special accounts management. Subsequently in Switzerland, he was CEO of a trust company with a focus on corporate consulting and equity holdings. Yet he has never forgotten his roots. The desire to make a difference again in the textile sector led him to join Peine GmbH in Wilhelmshaven as an investor and managing director. A business that seemed to be perfect for him. Today he knows that it is not a stationary textile company for which his heart beats. It is rather the development of projects and locations. Bringing together people and perspectives. This is exactly what he is currently doing in the outlet industry. "After the successful sale of Peine to a large Chinese corporation, I travelled around the world to look at outlets everywhere." Quickly it became clear to him that he did not want to create artificial worlds à la Disneyland, but individual centres. "They have to fit into the respective cities. I do not want to build alienated objects. My goal is to create a symbiosis between local history, culture and the existing retail structure. This is the only way to revitalize inner cities. For me this is a renaissance of the traditional shopping experience.” An ambitious project. "But no illusion," Jan D. Leuze is convinced.

And with good reason. The Constance businessman is a team player. He loves to bring people into the boat who like to think outside the box. Internal and external experts. People whom he trusts - privately and professionally. "If you're working creatively, the chemistry has to fit," he says. He has worked with many of his colleagues for several years. "I have a great team behind me. He sees himself rather as a conductor: "Without my orchestra, I am nothing at all". That is why he is grateful to have the personal gift of to shape experts and specialists from different fields and backgrounds into a, to stay true to the metaphor, harmonic ensemble. “If we play good music, we all get something out of it in the end." The 55-year-old is willing to risk a lot for this vision. Since the end of the 1990s he has bought and sold company shares as an investor. There is a sentence by Federico Fellini, which he likes to quote in this context: "The only true realist is the visionary."

That is exactly what drives him now. For him it is both an expectation and motivation at the same time. For Jan D. Leuze the integration of outlet centres into inner city structures is a successful and sustainable way to confront online trade. For him this also has a lot to do with social responsibility: "The classic shopping experience for me is also a cultural asset. I think, we all would miss it if we could only shop on the Internet. For it is not only about consumption, but also about communication and interpersonal contacts. They enrich our lives."