Leder & Schuh sees a return on its investment in Stiefelkönig in 2013, after improving the monitoring of the sell-through at its remaining stores, inventory management, logistics and other processes. The integration of finance and other back-office operations has already started, and Stiefelkönig's stores were connected to the group's SAP system last December.

Leder & Schuh will end up with only about 46 of the 66 Stiefelkönig stores it took over last September, about 15 of which are located outside Austria. Ten of the acquired stores, most of which are in Croatia and Slovenia, will be closed. Four stores are going to be sold to a retail member of Ringschuh in Austria. Two will be converted to Leder & Schuh's Humanic banner and format. Three others will be exchanged with three stores operated by a German retailer who has taken over the Austrian stores previously run by the bankrupt Mariella Burani Fashion Group.

Stiefelkönig will keep its high-end positioning in the Austrian market, but it will offer more private-label products than before. Its buyers are talking with those of Humanic and other chains of Leder & Schuh to discuss conditions and closer relations with some suppliers, but purchasing will remain separate.