Leder & Schuh has reported a 66.7 percent increase in operating profit to a record of €15.0 million for the 2004 financial year, excluding gains from the sale of properties. The weakness of the dollar and the weakening competition contributed to the result. As previously reported, the Austrian parent company of Humanic and other footwear retail chains – Corti, Jello and Shoe4You – booked a 6.3 percent sales increase to €338.4 million last year, but sales in the first four months of this year have gone up by only 5.1 percent, due to poor weather. The number of stores grew from 274 to 281, with those located outside Austria rising from 37 to 40 percent of all the units. The company, which employed a total of 2,645 people at the end of 2004, is now considering playing a certain role in Poland, where it opened the first two Humanic stores in Warsaw and Posen earlier this year. The initial results are encouraging. Leder & Schuh is already the #1 player in the Austrian and Hungarian shoe retail markets and it has a strong presence in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia.