France’s largest trading company has bought a controlling stake in Central Park Shoes (CPS), a smaller trading company in Pirmasens, complementing its product range and gaining access to major new international clients. Royer sells 25 million pairs of shoes annually, but they are mostly in the casual and sports sectors. Only about 5 million pairs of them are in the dressy fashion category covered by CPS. Royer’s sales have been growing rapidly, but only about 11 percent of its turnover of €130 million was outside France last year.

Royer’s ambition is to raise the foreign share of its turnover to 30 percent this year and to 50 percent by 2008. The acquisition of CPS, which had revenues of €30 million last year from the sale of about 5 million pairs of medium-priced women’s dress shoes, should help the French company to reach that goal sooner or later. Unlike some other German trading companies, CPS sells 80 percent of its products outside Europe, acting as sourcing agent and charging f.o.b. prices. It has some major international clients, such as Aldo in Canada or Zara in Spain, which may be interested also in some of Royer’s offerings. Both companies do their sourcing mainly in China and other Asian countries.

CPS’ former shareholders, Albert Hentenaar and the younger Axel Tiefenthaler, will continue to run their company, which they set up 1998, holding a minority stake. Hentenaar worked previously for 20 years at Intermedium, the large Dutch-based footwear trading company, and then joined Reno in 1991 as head buyer. Thiefenthaler came from the leather industry in Spain and Portugal. Their first big client was Aldo.

CPS began to source its products in Vietnam but then focused on China, setting up an office there in 2003. The product development is carried out in Spain, and one of the line builders is Gloria Navarro, a former buyer of Bata in Spain. In addition to its private label business, Royer holds shoe licenses for some 20 different brands, including Converse for France and Airwalk for Europe. The French company has five offices in Asia. It has invested €2 million on a new 6,000-square-meter logistic center near its head office in Fougère.