Bawag, the Austrian state bank that took over 100 percent of the large Austrian shoe retailer a few weeks ago, converting debt into shares, is confident that its results will become again positive in the medium term with the implementation of a new business plan, although some observers are skeptical. According to a local press report, which cite a debt of €79-82 million, the group made a loss of €13.6 million in 2002, down from €16.5 million in 2001, on sales of €159 million in 2002. No figures are yet available for 2003.

Bernd Kriegseisen is confirmed as CEO of the Stiefelkönig group, working with Erhard Grossnigg, the famous Vienna-based company doctor, as chairman of the supervisory board. Their business plan involves among other the elimination of its Palazina banner of shoe shops, some of which will be converted to the Stiefelkönig format, and a reduction in the number of Delka stores from 43 to 31 units by 2005.

On the other hand, the number of Stiefelkönig stores in Austria should grow from 66 to 73 already by the end of this year, and 5-6 more will be opened annually from 2005 onward. The number of Turbo Schuh stores, which are now 47, should grow as well. The new Feng Schuh format is still in a test phase. As for the group’s foreign expansion, it will only concentrate on Slovenia, where it has 5 Stiefelkönig doors and 12 Turbo Schuh stores. Its 3 existing stores in Slovakia have already been closed.