The Garant Group performed much better than the market in most of the European countries where it operates the first nine months of this year, although the number of affiliated stores dropped to 5,378 as of last Sept. 30, compared with 5,452 at the same time in 2010. The remaining retail members benefited from the bundling of several services with those of Garant's new parent company, ANWR, and the signing of new contracts with various important brands and suppliers.

While the effects of these factors will work their way into the system over time, they helped to boost the group's centralized settlements by 12.3 percent to €717.2 million in the first three quarter of 2011, with an increase of 7.5 percent in terms of comparable periods. This led to a 3.3 percent rise in Garant's net revenues to €47.2 million and to an improvement of €1.9 million in its net results.

Centralized settlements in Germany grew by only 2.4 percent, but their share has declined to only 25 percent of the total. The business was up by 5.2 percent in the Netherlands and by 9.7 percent in Switzerland, but it developed at a double-digit rate in every other part of Europe. France led with a rise in centralized settlements of 52.1 percent, followed by Austria with a 15.4 percent increase and by Belgium, up by 13.6 percent. As a whole, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia showed increases of 18.3 and 20.4 percent, respectively.

According to Garant, the shoe market rose by 1.1 percent in France during the same period, but fell in the other major markets: down by 1.0 percent in Germany, by 3.9 percent in the Netherlands, by 5.9 percent in Switzerland, by 1.0 percent in Belgium and by 2.2 percent in Austria. While relatively cold weather conditions helped retailers to get rid of winter merchandise, they also caused them to sell fewer summer products.