Ariston-Nord-West-Ring booked central settlements of €1.1 billion in the 1st half of 2005, or 10.2 percent more than in the same period a year ago, thanks in part to addition of major new clients for its financial services. Settlements in the footwear sector rose by 4.1 percent, and the German buying group is looking at flat results in 2005.

These figures don’t include the central settlements of DZB, the group’s house bank, which is expecting to raise the volume of its central settlements by 15 percent to €2.3 billion this year and to reach the threshold of €3 billion in 2006, thanks to some major new contracts in other sectors..

While it is interested in some Garant Sport + Mode’s business outside Germany, ANWR is not making any big efforts to attract its retail members in Germany, but 30-40 of them have switched their allegiance to the group. It counted a total of 1,855 independent shoe retailers with 3,782 stores as of last Dec. 31. Of these, 2,992 stores were in Germany, 334 in the Benelux countries, 195 in Scandinavia and 178 in Austria.

In 2004, ANWR’s central settlements declined by 12.9 percent to €2,000.7 billion. Those generated in the footwear sector dropped by 2.9 percent to €757.7 million, but the affiliated retailers saw their own sales decline by only 1.4 percent. ANWR-Schuh claims a 25 percent market share in the German footwear retail market. Its central settlements indicate that it will perform much better than Garant in its home market this year. With €103.2 million, central settlements on behalf of foreign shoe retailers represented 13.6 percent of the total amount.

On the other hand, good cost controls and the sale of €6 million worth of real estate assets allowed the group to improve its net profit to €8.3 million in 2004 from €3.0 million in the previous year, leading to higher dividends. Even before extraordinary gains, the pre-tax profit practically doubled to €11.7 million from €4.7 million, as the number of employees was reduced from 471 to 464 on average in the course of the year. Before amortization and depreciation, the operating profit (Ebitda) grew to €16.3 million from €10.9 million

Meanwhile, ANWR-Schuh is moving ahead swiftly with its «Best Partner» program, which allows some of its best shoe retailers to obtain special conditions from an increasing number of brands in return for bigger orders of certain models, good visibility on the store shelves and special promotional actions. A total of 53 suppliers have agreed to join the program, offering more than 600 items on which they are granting 10 percent discounts at certain conditions, such as the purchase of three out of four proposed models. Some 20 new vendors have joined the program, including Daniel Hechter, Esprit, Gerry Weber, Tom Tailor and Skechers. Two others have pulled out, but they are considering coming back. Among the retailers, about 220 are now into the program, as compared to only 180 six months ago.

ANWR has also triggered a lot of interest in its new licensed Haribo collection of children’s shoes, which is meant to fill the hole left by the disappearance of Elefanten from the wholesale market and the retreat of two other suppliers in the sector, Würz and Trettal. Made in China and India, the line comprises 55 different models in 3-4 different colors selling at suggested retail prices of between €29 and €49 a pair.