The leading European chain of optical stores is budgeting double-digit increases in sales and profits for 1999 as well as 2000 following an excellent third quarter and a planned acceleration in the domestic and foreign expansion of its store network. The number of new store openings should double next year to about 30 from 15 in 1999. Of those, 12-15 will be opened in Germany, especially in the less exploited Southern part of the country, about 3 in Switzerland, 5 or 6 in Austria and 5 in Poland. Fielmann is still considering a possible entry into the Spanish and Italian markets in 2000 or 2001.As indicated in the previous issue (Oct. 23), Fielmann wants to raise its own revenues outside Germany from 10 to 30 percent of a total turnover of 1.8 billion DM (e0.9b-$0.9b) within 3 to 4 years' time.

Following on the heels of the highly successful 700-square-meter megastore opened in Zurich at the beginning of 1998, another Fielmann Supercenter opened in Geneva a few days ago. The first one in Vienna is still planned on 650 sqm. for early next year. Other Supercenters may be opened in the next couple of years in Barcelona, Madrid, Milan and Rome. Each have a turnover of more than 10 million DM (e 5m-$5m), other flagships are contemplated for the next 5 years in Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, London, Birmingham and Dublin.



Fielmann's pre-tax earnings are expected to reach a record level of 122 million DM (e62m-$63m) this year, as compared to 103 million DM in 1998. The group's turnover should continue to grow in line with the results for the first 9 months, which were partly influenced by new openings in Austria (5 outlets sofar and 3 more planned for the 4th quarter) and Switzerland (13 stores sofar + 2 in the 4th quarter).

On a comparable-store basis, sales were up 7 percent in Germany and 6 percent in Switzerland in terms of revenues, and by 6 percent in Germany and 5 percent in Switzerland in terms of units sold. Sales in Germany were strong in July and August. They were not so good in September, but they again picked up momentum in October and November.

Including franchisees and Fielmann's own lens production, the group's total turnover rose by 12.4 percent to 931.7 million DM (e476.3m-$479.7m) in the 9-month period. The number of eyeglasses sold rose by 9.6 percent to 3.5 million pairs.