The Zentralverband Hartwarenhandel e.V. (ZHH) is a voluntary association of wholesale and retail dealers in the hardware sector. It only includes medium-sized companies in the specialist trade and also production-related trade. Production-related trade is a special form of wholesaling. We mean by this specialist trading companies which primarily deal with commercial users - mainly craft workshops and industry.
In terms of hardware business, the association's constitution defines the product groups under the following categories in §5:
- Kitchen, household, tableware
- Gardens, hobby equipment and related
- Products for the home, redecorating and security
- Products for agriculture and forestry
- Products for craftsmen, industry and other workshops together with workshop equipment and products concerning safety at work
- Product groups which are related to the above categories.
ZHH was formed in 1898 and has 125 years of industry representation of the Hardware Trade. Hardware is the collective term for a variety of products and product groups, among which especially the ranges ironware, tools, fittings, screws, fastening systems, security systems, lawn mowers, household goods, glass, porcelain / ceramic, cutlery, DIY, fitted kitchens, large household and electrical appliances, Sanitary ware and labor welfare. ZHH was called until 1995, "Eisenwaren- und Hausrathandels e.V. (FDE).”
Around 550 companies from all parts of Germany and various purchasing associations belong to the ZHH.
While it was the ironmongery dealers who formed a homogeneous member structure in the first decades of the history of the association, now the dramatic changes in this business have produced a wide range of specializations in goods offered. Today the companies that belong to the association are primarily those which have specialised into very different ranges. These various ranges are represented in ZHH by working groups and associations. As an industry association, we are committed to the promotion of medium-sized retailer and wholesaler tradeand represent the professional interests of hartware trade.
The ZHH also has international connections. Since its founding it has belonged to the International Association of Ironmongery Dealer Associations. This association called today International Hardware Association (IHA). 2021 the international associations from the DIY and hardware industry – Global Home Improvement Network (GHIN) and IHA – merged. The new "mega-network" is intended to help sharpen the profile of the industry worldwide. As a result of the merger, the hard goods trade will be given more attention in Brussels.
Associations are organisations to represent common interests. While it primarily concerned formerly the battle against unwanted competitors, today it is the initiatives from the branches and the services which determine the work in the association.