In the 1st quarter, Fielmann's profit before tax climbed by 16.9 percent to €29.3 million and its net income rose by 14.7 percent to €19.3 million. Consolidated sales increased by 5.9 percent to €203.6 million, but including franchisees' sales and VAT they were up by 7.7 percent to €243.0 million. The German retailer sold 1.5 million pairs of glasses during the quarter, representing a rise of 5 percent. Fielmann maintains its intention of opening 35 more stores and creating 400 additional jobs in the course of this year

Investments in other German-speaking countries are paying off. Sales were up by 9.1 percent in Switzerland to €22.1 million in the quarter, and up by 24.4 percent in Austria to €11.2 million. Earnings before tax and interest (EBIT) grew by 26.7 percent in Switzerland and jumped by 61.5 percent in Austria, reaching levels of €5.7 million and €2.1 million in those two countries, respectively.



Pushing forward with its retail expansion in Germany and neighboring countries, the company has opened 28 stores since the end of last year's 1st quarter, giving the company a total door count of 572 as of March 31, 2007. So far this year, the company has spent €5.6 million on investments, all of which has been funded by cash flow.

In the medium term, the company plans to open 200 more branches, most of which will be located in the south of Germany as well as a few locations near Berlin. A year ago it had forecasted 120-140 additional doors. In this same medium term, Fielmann aims to sell 6.5 million units from 700 branches in Germany, generating revenues of €1.1 billion and profits of €110 million. In Switzerland the company envisions 40 outlets selling 400,000 units, revenues of €120 million and profit of €24 million. In Austria Fielmann sees 40 branches selling 450,000 units generating €85 million in revenues, with profit of €9 million.

Based on data from ZVA, the German association of opticians, and quoted by Fielmann in its report for annual results, the number of eyeglasses sold in the German market totaled 10.2 million pairs in 2006. This compares to 9.1 million units in 2005. Although a different method was used to gather the data in those two years, based on this information Fielmann's market share in Germany reached 48 percent last year with 4.9 million units sold, as compared to a share of 53 percent in 2005 when 4.8 million units were sold by the company.

According to a different report cited by Fielmann in its annual report, about 13-17 million pairs of sunglasses are actually sold annually in Germany. Just one-fifth of all sunglasses are estimated to have been sold by opticians. The rest were sold at department store counters, perfumeries, boutiques, sports shops, retail markets and gas stations.

Other statistics provided by Fielmann for the contact lens market show that just roughly 5 percent of the German population wears soft lenses. This compares to 6 percent in Switzerland and 10 percent in the USA. However Fielmann says that new developments in soft lenses, such as one-day wear lenses, could stimulate growth in this market in Germany. Revenues from contact lenses, accessories and lens care products totaled roughly €500 million in Germany in 2006, of which €400 million were sold through opticians.

Germany's optical market remains strongly fragmented, as illustrated by further data provided by ZVA. A traditional German optician sells less than 2 pairs of glasses a day, while a Fielmann store sells 35 on average. Independent German opticians sell less 600 pairs of glasses annually, while each Fielmann location sells about 10,000. The average annual turnover of a German optician is €300,000, as compared to a Fielmann store generating €1.6 million in Germany, €2.9 million in Austria and €3.9 million in Switzerland.