After registering its first quarterly decline in about ten years during three months ended last March 31. Fielmann raised its consolidated sales by 5.1 percent to €344.0 million in the second quarter ended June 30, with a healthy increase on a comparable basis of about 3.5 percent. Unit sales went up a little faster, by 6.2 percent, to a total of 2.05 million pairs, thank in particular to strong sales of sunglasses during the month of June.

As indicated three months ago (EWI Vol. 17 n° 6 of April 29), there were three more shopping days in April than in the same period of a year ago. In March, customers in the German-speaking countries preferred to take advantage of an early Easter holiday to go skiing and do other things than buying glasses.

The higher overall sales allowed the German optical retail leader to boost its pre-tax earnings by 16.8 percent to €62.6 million. Net income rose by 17.0 percent to €44.6 million, offsetting the decline suffered in the first quarter.

In fact, pre-tax profit rose to €116.6 million for the first six months of the year from €116.3 million in the corresponding period of 2015, but net earnings ended flat at €82.7 million. Consolidated sales went up to €660.4 million from €644.3 million. Total unit sales grew to 3.93 million units from 3.80 million units.

Sales increases were recorded in each country except in Switzerland, where a further 3.8 percent appreciation of the Swiss franc against the euro led to a decline in terms of euros to €83.7 million during the six-month period from €87.3 million in the first half of 2016. In Germany, sales increased to €520.6 million from €504.7 million, but Germany was the only country where profit declined, down to €62.3 million from €63.3 million.

Fielmann says it wants to continue to expand and renovate or relocate existing stores, while opening more hearing aids centers in its stores. As of June 30, it had exactly 700 branches across Europe, ten more than a year earlier. Of those, 146 had a hearing aids counter compared with 126 a year ago.

At its annual meeting on July 14, Fielmann welcomed a new director into its supervisory board. Hans-Otto Schrader, chief executive of the big German Otto Group, took the place of a long-standing member, Graf von Faber-Castell, due to his death. He will serve on the board at least three years from now, when all the board members will come up for re-election. As Otto is big in online retailing, observers feel that Schrader may provide useful advice to Fielmann, which has resisted any bold moves into e-commerce so far, for the possible launch of an omni-channel strategy.

Fielmann already uses its websites to inform consumers about its services and the nearest stores. By the end of this year, Fielmann will launch an app in Germany that will allow its customers to order replacement contact lenses online. It is has been offering a similar service in Austria for a few years.