The move had been largely expected. On Dec. 1, a court in Düsseldorf formally placed Garant Schuh + Mode in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to the petition that it had filed in September, freezing its debt and confirming Friedrich Wilhelm Metzeler as receiver of the large German-based buying group. Metzeler will have to present an audit of the company by Feb. 11, indicating whether it can continue as a going concern or should be liquidated. A meeting with creditors later that month should determine its fate.

Another German court pronounced on Dec. 1 the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Salamander Schuhe, which has been a 100 percent subsidiary of Garant since October 2003. Its receiver, Henrik Hefermehl, has asked all the creditors of the chain to file their claims by Jan. 12. The meeting with the creditors is set for Feb. 2, and Salamander’s management hopes that an investor will have been selected by then to take over the group’s assets and liabilities all over Europe.

As previously reported, numerous financial and strategic investors have shown interest in the Salamander chain, particularly because the current bankruptcy proceedings will enable it to shed many employees and many loss-making stores in Germany without incurring excessive charges. On the other hand, Salamander’s previous owner, the EnBW power company, has taken back full possession of the rights to the Salamander trade name and the new investor will have to negotiate its purchase or a license.

Meanwhile, in a long-planned move that is independent of the present bankruptcy proceedings, Garant has transferred to Global Trade the function of handling the sourcing of shoes from Italian companies in behalf of its affiliated members, replacing the trading company of Alberto Terragnoli. The move takes effect officially from next Jan. 1, but Global Trade has already started to handle all the orders for the Spring/Summer 2005 season. Terragnoli, who is now 63 years old, is going into retirement after doing the same job for Garant on a commission basis for the last 28 years. He had already informed Garant of his intentions two and a half years ago.

Based in the Florence region, Global Trade has been acting as the Italian agent of Rexor, a subsidiary of Garant, for 25 years, similarly taking responsibility for its relations with Italian suppliers. It works also with Italian companies in behalf of big foreign clients such as Next in the UK and Steven Madden in the USA, guaranteeing reorders within 5 weeks. In addition to sourcing shoes for them, it handles the supply of Italian components for the shoes manufactured for Madden all over the world.

Global Trade employs 12 persons, some of whom visit the Italian suppliers’ plants in other countries regularly. It has an office also in Tunisia. The company is run by Giovanni Ceri, a 65-year-old executive who started off importing shoes from South Korea and Vietnam. In the last four years he has been gradually shifting responsibilities to his son Riccardo, 36.