The German market leader achieved a 9.3 percent sales increase on a comparable basis in the 1st half of this year, contributing to boost the group's pre-tax earnings by 14.1 percent to 65.8 million DM (e33.6m-$29.7m). A record pre-tax profit of 137 million DM (e70m-$62m) on external sales of 1.4 billion DM (e m-$m) is budgeted for the whole year.
Including franchises and industry, total external sales grew by 12 percent to 681.6 million DM (e34.8m-$30.7m) in the 6-month period, and the number of spectacles sold rose by 6.1 percent to 2.4 million. Thanks to the addition of new stores, sales in Switzerland and Austria grew by more than 50 percent to represent 9 percent of total external sales, as compared to 6 percent in the year-ago period.
The new Fielmann Super-centers in Vienna and Zurich have been very successful. Fielmann claims now a market share of 35 percent in Vienna. Its superstore on Zurich's Bahnhof-strasse reached sales of more than 25 million DM (e13m-$11m) in the 6-month period, or 30 times the sales level of the average local optician, apparently without suffering from the competition of the new neighboring GrandOptical superstore, which is more brand-oriented. A Fielmann superstore is still planned for an opening in Amsterdam on 1,000 square meters next Spring.
Total investments reached 51.4 million DM (e26.3m-$23.2m) in the 1st half, and they included the acquisition of the Dutch Hofland Optiek chain and continued high spending on the company's new production, logistics and training center in Rathenow, which is not expected to have a positive impact on the bottomline until 2002. The total number of stores increased to 474. The increase in the net profit was partly due to Germany's new tax reform, which helped to lower the group's total income tax ratio from 47.7 to 38 percent.