The leading German optical retail chain had a pre-tax profit of €38.7 million in the first quarter ended March 31, a 31.8 percent increase over the same period last year. Its net income rose by 53.6 percent to €27.1 million, with the disproportionate increase in the final result attributed to a fiscal reform that reduced the corporate tax rate from 40 to 30 percent.

Lower advertising costs and stronger sales of multi-focal glasses contributed to the improvement at the pre-tax level. Günther Fielmann, president and controlling shareholder of the company, told reporters that it had decided to lower its marketing expenses because it was faced with excessive demand from customers. He noted that customers had to wait in line to be served at 70 percent of his stores.

Consolidated sales for the period jumped by 7.2 percent to €218.3 million. External sales were €258.9 million, compared with €243.0 million in the year-ago period. The company sold 1.5 million pairs of glasses, the same amount as in the first quarter of 2007, but average selling prices went up.

Sales rose in all three of the company's major geographical segments for the quarter: up by 6.7 percent in Germany to €185.0 million; by 10.0 percent in Switzerland to €24.3 million; and by 0.9 percent in Austria to €11.3 million. Germany and Austria also saw growth in earnings before tax and interest, from €21.1 million to €31.3 million in Germany and €2.5 million, up from €2.2 million, for Austria. EBIT for Switzerland, however, decreased from €6.0 million to €4.7 million.

 

As of March 31, the company had 601 shops, compared with 572 at that time last year. It had 599 shops as of Dec. 31, 2007. It still plans to open 30 stores in total for 2008. At the end of the quarter, the company had 11,873 employees, 1,858 of whom were trainees. This is an increase from the same period 2007, when 11,147 people were employed, 1,647 as trainees.