Otto is one of the biggest home shopping companies in the world with over 120 subsidiaries across the globe in Asia, Europe and North America. Otto began life in 1949 post-war Germany when Werner Otto started a small mail-order business with 3 employees based in the Schnelsen district of Hamburg. The company was called "Otto Versand" and by 1959 the first OTTO catalogue was produced, 300 hand bound copies featuring 14 pages of 28 pairs of shoes. Over the years Otto have published twice a year with their Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter catalogues.
Otto began to grow internationally during the 1970's with the purchase of 3 Suisses, the French Mail- Order business and the setting up of Otto Holland. Bon Prix was founded by the Otto Group in 1986, selling fashion and homewares. Bon Prix is now considered one of the top 10 mail-order companies in Germany.
In 1999 the Otto Group bought the Freemans UK catalogue brand to go with Grattan's catalogue they had previously aquired in 1991. By 2000, these 2 mail order firms, Grattan and Freemans, were consolidated under the Otto UK umbrella and then in 2009, the parent company in the UK was renamed Freemans Grattan Holdings (FGH). FGH also operates the catalogue companies Kaleidoscope, Look Again, Curvissa and Witt International. BonPrix, an Otto group subsidiary since 1986 ia also now part of FGH.
- 1949 - Founded by Werner Otto
- 1959 - First 14 page OTTO catalogue produced
- 1976 - Heine bought by OTTO
- 1981 - 3 Suisses join OTTO group
- 1986 - Launch of Bon Prix
- 1991 - Grattan catalogue bought
- 1999 - Freemans bought
- 2009 - Freemans Grattan Holdings created
- 2011 - Curvissa launched