Stiefelkönig, one of the two big players on the Austrian shoe market, has sold 13 outlets of its low-price chain called Turbo to Deichmann, the German giant. Nine of the stores are located in Austria, four in Slovenia. The deal is still under the condition that the new owners will manage to renew the rent contracts with the owners of the respective real estate.

The Bawag bank, which owns Stiefelkönig, still plans to sell the rest of the company. Since Bawag has not yet managed to sell it as a group, the strategy now is to sell most of the operations that are not part of the core Stiefelkönig business to make it easier to find a buyer. The Deichmann deal affects 13 of the 45 Turbo stores, of which 35 are located in Austria and 10 in Croatia and Slovenia. The Turbo stores acquired by the German chain will be named Deichmann. Currently, Deichmann, the largest shoe retailer in Europe, operates some 120 outlets in Austria and 11 in Slovenia, a market that the chain entered in 2006.

Stiefelkönig increased its net sales from €140 million in 2007 to €145 million in 2008. On a comparable basis, sales slipped slightly by 1 percent, a decline that is said to have been in line with the general evolution of Austrian shoe retail sector.

Deichmann also has big plans for the U.K., which the chain entered in 2001. The company wants to add 10 units to its 31 stores in the country during 2009, and it sees a potential of up to 400 doors in the U.K. in the long run. Especially during the current recession in Britain, the company sees good business opportunities for fashionable and affordable shoes.

The chain intends to invest £4.5 million (€4.95m-$6.68m) in shop development this year, and create 150 new jobs. While most of the existing stores have been located in the north of England and the Midlands, Deichmann moved into the capital last week. On April 1, Deichmann opened its first London store, a 675-square-meter flagship, in the Westfield Shopping Center.

Most of the planned stores will be between 325-465 square meters wide, larger than most shoe stores because of Deichmann’s «rack room» format, in which customers serve themselves instead of having a clerk go to a back room to retrieve certain styles or sizes.

As previously reported, Deichmann had sales last year of €3.12 billion, an increase of 6.2 percent over 2007. Just over half of all sales were made outside Germany.