Garant’s centralized invoicing and fulfillment went down by 2.8 percent to €236.9 million in the first quarter of 2009. While sales were flat in the shoe business at €182.1 million, the buying group faced significant declines of 9.2 percent in its sports business and 14.2 percent for leathergoods, going down to €37.1 million and €17.7 million, respectively.

In terms of geography, the group performed better in countries such as Belgium and France than in the German home market. In Germany the centralized turnover was down by 8.6 percent to €66.7 million, running behind the Netherlands at €69.1 million.

For shoe retail only, sales were up in France (+4.6 percent) and in Belgium (+6.8 percent) whereas they dipped in the other countries: Germany (-2.2 percent), the Netherlands (-2.9 percent), Austria (-3.4) and Switzerland (-2.4). In Germany, sales were down for leathergoods (-6 percent) and apparel (-5 percent), but were up in sporting goods retailing (+9 percent).

The number of members and shops continued to grow. For the first quarter, the number of members grew from 3,378 in the previous year’s period to 3,418. The number of doors increased from 5,041 to 5,126. The healthy development is partially due to the French market, where the amount of affiliated retailers jumped from 84 dealers (145 shops) to 483 retailers (848). Total centralized invoicing jumped in France by 35.2 percent to €14.2 million.

The French subsidiary of Garant, which is run by Francis Palombi, is taking advantage of its momentum by launching the idea of a “Premium Club” of retailers trading in the high and medium-high segments of the market. They will have their own buying days.

The group’s net revenues declined by 2.4 percent to €24.6 million in the quarter. For the full fiscal year, the group expects an increase in sales to €800 million and revenues of €95 million. Earnings before taxes are projected at €1 million.