The big Austrian retailer has now, for the first time ever, more stores outside its home market than inside Austria. At the end of 2008, 52 percent of Leder & Schuh International’s 335 stores where outside Austria. Currently, the chain operates in nine countries: Additionally to its operations in Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, it entered the Romanian market last spring and the Swiss one in the autumn, setting up the first stores in the respective capitals of Bucharest and Bern. Most recently it opened its first Humanic store in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb.

Sales grew by 4.5 percent to €476 million in 2008. Operating earnings before income and taxes (Ebit) decreased, however, to €14.8 million as compared to €19.8 million in 2007.

The Graz-based chain sees itself as Austrian market leader and as European Number 6 specialty shoe retailing.

Overall, Leder & Schuh opened 33 new stores in the past year, not including the revamping and moving of existing outlets. The company sees additional business opportunities on the internet, which is traditionally difficult for shoe retailing. On March 5, Leder & Schuh launched its Humanic webshop called shoemanic.com.