Amigo Spiele eyes future, names senior managers to join veteran Uwe Pauli, who led the company’s turnaround in the 1990s

Amigo Spiele has named two new managing directors as it lays the groundwork for a future beyond veteran company head Uwe Pauli, the man who helped save the German board game maker from financial peril in the early 1990s.

Pauli, who has largely withdrawn from day-to-day business at Amigo in recent years, has spent more than 30 years as sole managing director, having turned the business around after the company lost the rights to card game Uno amid the takeover of International Games by Mattel.

Amigo had built its name on small card games in the 1980s, scoring a huge success with the German distribution of Uno, but found itself on shaky financial ground after Mattel took over distribution rights for the game in 1992 – leading to Amigo founders Rudolf Jansen and Günther Voigt selling the company to a German investment house the same year.

Pauli came in to lead the business as part of that deal, making use of years of experience working in logistics to right the company, despite having little experience of the board game industry itself.

Amigo has now passed a shareholder resolution naming fellow company veterans Joachim Ulbrich, pictured above left, and Alexander Jost, above right, as managing directors alongside Pauli.

Ulbrich, the head of purchasing, has been working for the company since 1989, while fellow new managing director Alexander Jost celebrates 20 years with the company this year.

Pauli formed a decision-making committee several years ago to manage Amigo’s day-to-day operations and strategic decisions, which both new managing directors are on.

Pauli said, “The next logical step was to expand Amigo’s management team, to position the company in a future-oriented and secure way.”

He added that the realignment had no further structural effects on Amigo, saying, “The same people are still in the same places.”

Pauli’s revival of Amigo came through the introduction of Magic: The Gathering to the German market in 1995, as well as the savvy signing of games including 6 Nimmt! and Bohnanza.

The company picked up the German licensing and distribution rights to Dungeons and Dragons in 1999 and added the enormously popular Pokemon TCG to its range, and complemented that with the addition of fellow TCG major Yu-Gi-Oh in 2004.

Amigo won the Spiel des Jahres in 1998 for Alan R Moon’s Elfenland, and has had two Kinderspiel wins in the last few years with Ice Cool and Magic Mountain.

The company launched a US operation, Amigo Games, in 2018 to bring its games directly to the North American market.

Amigo recently announced nine game releases scheduled for the first half of 2024 – a huge uptick from the two games it revealed for the same period in 2023, which were both spin-off titles.

The upcoming games include Reiner Knizia’s LAMA Kadabra and a trio of roll-and-write games from the same designer: Pick a Pen: Gärten, Pick a Pen: Riffe and Pick a Pen: Schatzkammern.

Wolfgang Kramers’s 6 Nimmt! is getting a 30th anniversary edition, Saboteur a 20th anniversary edition, and the company is also releasing Feiges Huhn! (Cowardly Chickens), Snack Rabbits and Wolkenschiff.

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