About us

The Croll & Denecke family enterprise

Croll & Denecke:

FAMILY BUSINESS WITH A FASCINATION FOR THE SEA

The heart of our company beats in the depths of the sea. There, a good 40 metres below the water’s surface, natural sponges grow – a true miracle of nature. With their silk-like texture, they are durable, versatile, and extra gentle on the skin. Our story begins with the fascination for these living creatures:

 

In 1897, Gustav Croll and Theodor Denecke decided to import raw natural sponges from the Greek Mediterranean to Bremen and refine them here by hand. We still do this today – but in the meantime we have expanded our product range to include sustainable spa and household products. We are Peter, Nina and Sara Hankiewicz, the third and fourth generation in our enterprise. Our mission: Sustainable skin and body care products with a good conscience and in harmony with nature.

»We only sell what we would buy ourselves.«

 

Sara Hankiewicz, Managing Director

It has been a long road to get here. Originally, others wanted to follow the same path: At the time of its foundation, Croll & Denecke was not alone with the idea of sponge trading. There were still over a hundred companies in Germany then. Only a few of them have remained – many did not find successors, while others did not survive the wars. Croll & Denecke was spared from both. In 1928, our grandfather joined the company, followed by our father Peter Hankiewicz in 1958. Since 2008 and 2019, Peter Hankiewicz and his daughters Nina and Sara Hankiewicz have been part of the management team.

Family and business? Some say the two do not go together. With us it is different. We are strong as a family, this has always been the case. At Croll & Denecke, the third and fourth generations work successfully hand in hand – for a long time we even did it under one roof. We learn from each other and grow together. This is how many years of experience meet new ideas and impulses, moving us forward as a company – and constantly improving our products and working methods. We are still successful with this today: As a wholesaler for natural sponges, we are the market leader in Europe. We export our products from Vahr in Bremen to more than 50 countries – and every year more and more countries are added to this list.

HOLISTICALLY SUSTAINABLE

Sustainability is our foundation. We live this not only in our products. At Croll & Denecke, we implement sustainability holistically.

WE FOCUS ON THE POWER OF NATURE

We ourselves want to consume good things that are sustainable and durable. We stand for what we work for. This has proven itself: For generations, we have relied on the power of nature for our products. Our natural sponges are biodegradable, last for years if well cared for – and have many uses not only for skin care but also in the household. We also rely on high-quality, skin-friendly and sustainable materials for our products. Do you have any specific wishes? Just contact us.

WE FOCUS ON GENTLE HARVESTING

The gentle, sustainable extraction of our natural sponges and the preservation of the ecological balance are important to us. We regularly make sure of this in person on site. Our trading partners harvest in a controlled way and only twice a year, when the natural sponges have reached a minimum size. The sponge roots are always preserved. The special thing about this: Millions of sperm cells are released when they are cut off. This means that the natural sponges grow sustainably – again and again.

WE FOCUS ON ALTERNATIVE PACKAGING

Humans have a great influence on nature. More and more often, we are supplied with natural sponges with the smallest plastic particles grown in – this is pure poison for nature. We cannot change this on our own, but we want to make our own contribution: In recent years, we have replaced a large part of our plastic packaging with sustainable alternatives.

This is not yet working for all products as we would like – but our long-term goal is to give up plastic almost completely. Already we save about one tonne of plastic waste per year. We are happy to respond to the individual wishes of our customers.

WE FOCUS ON LONG-TERM COLLABORATION

What you take care of stays with you for a long time. This applies to our products as well as to our business relationships. With many trade partners, we have worked successfully for generations. This is also the case with our production staff in Bremen: Quite a few have been loyal to us for over 25 years.

A holistic view of the individual is important to us. Diversity is welcome at Croll & Denecke: We are a colourful, diverse team.