Garant Schuh & Mode will explore possibilities for rapid procurement of the latest product lines, with suitable marketing support, to help enhance the competitiveness of its retail members. The German-based buying group will also seek to enlist new contract suppliers while improving purchasing terms and other conditions – a move that will be facilitated by Garant’s takeover last October of Salamander’s 230-plus stores in Germany and other countries.

The large international retail organization also has on its agenda for 2004 a further optimisation of existing marketing concepts and the development of new forms of distribution. It wants to improve the exchange of information within the group, with its suppliers and its specialist dealers, whose number increased last year to 4,920 from 4,850 at the end of 2002. The number of their sales outlets grew in the period to 7,160 from 6,780.

Few financial details are available for the moment about Garant’s performance in 2003. For the moment, the group reports that purchases carried out through its central agency increased by 1.2 percent to about €1.3 billion, driven by a 13.7 percent jump in the sporting goods sector. Central settlements in behalf of non-German retailers grew by 4.7 percent to €919 million, representing 70 percent of the total turnover.

Garant points to the difficult economic situation in Germany, the continuing problems in the European footwear market and last year’s collapse in international air traffic, which strongly affected sales of leathergoods and accessories. However, the management indicates that the signs of an economic upturn are increasing. The German tax reforms, in particular, should stimulate consumer spending.