The Otto Group has announced the death of Werner Otto, the visionary German businessman who founded the world's largest mail-order company in 1949. He died on Dec. 21 at the age of 102. The son of a merchant, he set up the former Otto Versand with capital of 6,000 German marks in Hamburg, pasting the first catalog with the images of 28 pairs of shoes. Today, the Otto Group has an annual turnover of more than €11 billion and employs some 50,000 people at 123 companies in 20 countries. It is the parent company of SportScheck and other specialized retail chains. A leader in multi-channel retailing, it gets nearly half of its retail revenues from 50 online platforms, including a recently launched web shop for shoes, Mirapodo. In 1965, Werner Otto founded another company, ECE, which now manages more than 130 shopping centers in 16 European countries.