In outlining the results and the financial objectives of his company, Diego Bolzonello, chief executive of Geox, dismissed the notion that his company may want to buy the Austrian shoe retail chain or any other multi-brand retailer, although Stiefelkönig is a major franchisee and Geox is targeting the leadership in the Austrian and German brown shoe markets. The comments are a U-turn from previous expressions of interest for this group, which operates Geox stores in Austria, Germany and Croatia.

According to new press reports, Stiefelkönig’s hard-pressed owner, BAWAG, has received expressions of interest by other parties. One of them is said to be Peek & Cloppenburg, a large retail group where one of its top managers, Thomas Ridder, was previously the chief executive of Stiefelkönig’s main rival, the Leder & Schuh group, which controls Humanic.

Another alternative would be a management buyout led by Stieflekönig’s two joint managing directors, Toni Kampelmühler and Oliver Wieser. Reno is said to have looked at the company, but gave up after hearing that the minimum asking price would be around €30 million.

The investment arm of the Austrian Raiffeisen bank is handling the sale of Stiefelkönig, which operates a total of 70 stores in Austria and neighboring countries. It had a turnover of around €70 million in 2007.