Christoph von Guionneau, the 55-year-old chairman of the executive board at Görtz, left the big German shoe retail group with immediate effect in the middle of May. The 55-year-old Guionneau had led the company's executive board since 2007. The supervisory board said that Guionneau left the company of his own volition.

Guionneau joined the executive board of the German retail chain in 2003. In 2007, he was made president. He has been widely credited for the increase in Görtz' market share, the internationalization of the company and the development of the group into a multi-channel organization. He represented the group's interests in the company's domestic market and abroad and increased the awareness of the Görtz brand.

Since 2011, there has been a spate of rumors about the difficult economic situation at the company. At the beginning of last year, Shoe Intelligence reported that Görtz had enjoyed a 25 percent increase in sales to more than €400 million in 2010, with an increase of 10 percent on a same-store basis. However, Görtz was apparently unable to match this performance in 2011, as sales reportedly fell by 5 percent for the year. We hear that they have not recovered since.

Comprehensive cost reductions in the past few months, including the shutdown of five new stores, suggest that the company is not doing well financially and that it still has to fight a considerable surplus inventory from the past couple of season, due not only to the unfavorable weather conditions, but also to other factors. Obervers mention the aggressive competition from pure e-commerce players such as Zalando and an excessive reliance on private label items.

Its online sales in Germany and Austria had reached ten percent of the company's total turnover, but they reportedly fell to only about €30 million last year. Private label has gone up to represent more than 40 percent of sales, the reports indicate.

The departure of Guionneau follows that of another high-level executive of Görtz, Rainer Worbs, at the end of last year. Guionneau's functions and tasks will be assumed by the other members of the executive board, consisting of Thorstem Hermelink, Christian Moritz and Jörn Peters. Until further notice, Görtz is not searching for a new chairman. Görtz sells its collections through its online shop and more than 280 stores in Germany, Austria, Poland and Switzerland.