Shortly after announcing the acquisition of the Elefanten brand from Clarks, which had closed its factories last year, the big German shoe retailer has announced that it has agreed to take over the Gallus brand of men’s shoes, which is also very well known in the Germanic countries. Gallus’ production company in Austria went into receivership last year and then closed its factory in the country, which had been streamlined over the past few years to face up to the international competition.

Like in the case of Elefanten, Deichmann declines to disclose the price of the acquisition and says the completion of the agreement is subject to the approval of the anti-trust authorities. As with Elefanten, Deichmann plans to offer Gallus as a house brand with a nice price/quality ratio, making use of its strong product development and sourcing capabilities, but it will use also some of Gallus’ former suppliers. Deichmann had previously offered two less known private labels – Bärenschuhe and Borelli – in the children’s and men’s footwear sectors, and the two acquisitions will expand its product range into a higher segment of the market.

The retailer says it decided to acquire the Gallus brand after the positive results of a special sale of inventories from Gallus’ collections in its own stores over the past few weeks. Like with Elefanten, Deichmann indicates that it may sell its future Gallus collections to other retailers on a wholesale basis, saying that it will be offered by the company internationally, “among other things’ through its own 1,600-odd stores in Europe, starting with the Spring 2006 season.

Geert Van Spaendonck, a young Belgian entrepreneur who also owns the higher-end Van Lier brand of formal men’s shoes, had bought the Gallus brand in 1997 when it was in serious financial difficulties. Two years later he closed Gallus’ factory in Germany, where the staff had declined to 160 persons from 1,500 in the brand’s heydays. Van Spaendonck, who shared the ownership of the Gallus brand with other interests lately, is going to concentrate now on the Van Lier brand, whose sales remained stable last year at around one-half of Gallus’ revenues of €20 million.

Van Lier opened a flagship store in Amsterdam last December, and the results have been better than expected. While looking at a more international role for the brand, the company is working on a more casual Van Lier Sport line and contemplating the possibility of opening more stores.