Like other German optical retailers, Fielmann hesitates now to make a forecast for the balance of the year, in view of the country's difficult market situation, although discounters in other fields like Aldi or C&A are doing relatively well. Fielmann performed relatively well in the 2nd quarter, leading to a 4.7 percent increase in consolidated sales to e323.8 million in the 1st half. Its revenues continued to increase in July and August, indicating that sales and profits should be up for the full year.

The giant German-based optical retail chain reports a 7 percent increase in pre-tax income to e37,132,000 for the 6-month period ended June 30. Net income after minority interests grew by 7.4 percent to e25,130,000 and earnings per share jumped by 17.4 percent to e1.28. Bonus from suppliers and savings in logistics and personnel helped to improve the bottomline, and the company is getting closer now to its target to reduce personnel charges to 35 percent of sales from the 37 percent level of late last year.

In the 1st half of 2002, profits before amortizations and interest charges increased to a margin of 9 percent for Fielmann's German retail business on 3.8 percent higher sales of e262.7 million, as compared to the 7.7 percent margin of the same period a year ago. Sales in Switzerland rose by 8.7 percent to e30 million, and their margin rose from 5.8 to 8 percent. In Austria, sales declined by 1.7 percent to e11.8 million, but Fielmann's negative operating margin fell from 13.3 to 4.2 percent. In The Netherlands, sales were up 11.5 percent to e2.9 million and the operating loss increased slightly to 24.1 percent.

Fielmann has become the second-largest optician in Switzerland, right behind Visilab, after a presence of only 5 years in the market. It's #3 in Austria with 12 stores, and it wants to become the leader in both countries, like in Germany. Thanks to its widely reported discount battle with Specsavers (see previous issue of EWI and the next story), its first store in The Netherlands has done extremely well, selling over 25,000 pairs of glasses in only 4 months on a limited size of 140 square meters. It's still doing very well, with sales of over 100 pairs per day.