The young German buying cooperative recorded great success in the Netherlands in the first half of this year. As Shoe Intelligence reported a couple of months ago, GMS started to operate in the Netherlands last April, and Belgium may come next.

Bart Dirven and Cornelius H. Borger, both of whom formerly worked for Garant in the Netherlands, are now leading the Dutch activities of GMS. Dirven has assumed the post of general manager for GMS Netherlands, while Borger is a consultant of the cooperative. Theo Reijers, formerly general manager of Street One in the Netherlands, and Vincent de Kok started to work for GMS in April, taking care of the cooperative's customer service.

From April until the beginning of this month, GMS Netherlands had already attracted 70 members. Fifty are already affiliated; the remaining 20 still need to prove their financial efficiency before signing the contract. The objective for the end of this year is to have 80-100 affiliated retailers in total, and the aim for the next year is to increase that number to 200.

The GMS Academy, which was organized in Germany to provide retailers further training and qualifications, will also be offered to Dutch retailers starting in October.

The cooperative now aims to expand further internationally, first of all to the Belgian market. At the moment, GMS is in talks with clients in Belgium and Luxembourg. One retailer in Belgium and three or four retailers in Luxembourg have shown interest in dealing with GMS. Decisions about the management structure in Belgium perwill probably not be made before the end of this year.

The objective of the cooperative is to start business in these two countries by the beginning of next year. Other interesting markets for GMS in the future include France and Austria. However, GMS aims to strengthen its position in the Netherlands and Belgium before focusing on new markets.