After more than 12 years with the international buying group, Erika Reinhard will leave Garant Schuh + Mode after her current three-year contract expires at the end of April. A highly respected personality, she was in charge of international product selection. Wolfgang Roessing, chief executive of Rexor, a sister company of Garant, will take care of this sector on an interim basis.

Formerly planned to be a done deal by the end of March, the expected takeover of Garant by a strategic investor has been postponed indefinitely. Garant came out of its insolvency on Jan. 1, and it is now reviewing the general company structure to make it more efficient.

Among other things, the country managers will have more decision-making power. In this context, Richard Brekelmans will again concentrate all its energies on the management of the Dutch Garant organization, which is now handling more central settlements than the German one. He has been recently spending several days per week at Garant’s central office in Düsseldorf, following his appointment two years ago as international marketing manager of the group. He will continue as an advisor to the executive board in this domain.

Brekelmans, a former official of Hogenbosch, K Shoes and Salamander who joined Garant in 1997, has been responsible for the launch of many interesting new concepts lately, such as Line footwear and several niche formats within the Fair Play International Sport umbrella. He has launched a successful program to support the affiliated retailers’ sales of children’s shoes, running under the profile of an imaginary Professor Umberto Lino.

After initiating children to the mysteries of Egypt, Professor Lino is going to tell them about the Arctic and about climate change through comic strips and a variety of POS material and gifts when they go to the stores for the campaign planned for the Fall/Winter 2008-09 season. The Coral Reef has been chosen as the theme for the subsequent season. The comics are now available in German, Dutch and French as more than 55 stores are now involved in the Professor Lino saga in Germany, plus 40 in the Netherlands and 50 in France. The story is also being brought to Belgium and Ireland, and it is being adopted by some stores affiliated with Goldkrone, the leathergoods buying group controlled by Garant.

All the national Garant organizations are now being asked to come up with new ideas. Meanwhile Garant has launched a new modular store fitting concept. It has also given a clearly distinct positioning to two of its private labels, Firetti and Franco Buzzato, giving them new logos and specializing them in women’s and men’s footwear, respectively.