At the GDS, Ara, the new owner of Salamander, gave some more details about what it is going to do with its new project. Thomas Schmies, chief financial officer of Ara, explained that the acquisition meant a diversification of the group into retail and the addition of another strong brand to its portfolio, which includes Lloyd and Legero.
First, he stressed, the Salamander chain is not intended to become a premier distribution channel for Ara products. It is the philosophy of the Ara group to let all affiliated brands and companies work independently.
Second, Ara is ready to revamp Lurchi, Salamander’s highly popular brand of children’s footwear. Here Ara will also go into the wholesale business in the sense that it is going to offer the brand to retailers other than Salamander. This looks analogous to what Deichmann did when it acquired Elefanten.
Third, Schmies ruled out that Salamander might move into new countries directly, at least for now. He can imagine, in fact, that the business in new markets could be farmed out to interested licensees. The company sees that it will require reducing administration costs to get the chain back on track. Cuts in terms of staff are not excluded.
Manufacturing for Salamander is not at the top of Ara’s agenda. Schmies said that Salamander products might be produced in Ara’s facilities, but it was not a major factor in the acquisition. More important to him are the synergies in terms of research and development: Ara will develop the collections of both Salamander and Lurchi.
It was confirmed that the German retail operations of Salamander will remain in the hands of the Klauser group, a big shoe retailer that is strong in Northrhine-Westphalia. The retail business outside Germany will be operated by Ara through Salamander’s six foreign subsidiaries in Austria, France, Russia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The Czech operations also covers Salamander’s activities in Slovakia.
Schmies said that more details on the strategy for Salamander cannot be given until after the end of May, when its fiscal year has ended. The CFO said, however, that there are other plans in the works.