Marc Fielmann, who took over the reins at the big, eponymous German retail chain from his father a few months ago, has big plans for the company, particularly in the areas of digitalization and international expansion.
He is expected to be more specific in August, when he will lay out the company's new Vision 2025 business plan. For the moment, the company says it wants to achieve external sales of €2.3 billion in the longer term, with an aim to sell one out of four glasses in continental Europe.
According to company officials, this would represent an acceleration in the company's compound annual average growth to a rate of between 4 and 6 percent. Fielmann has already started to branch out into Italy and to have a stronger presence in Poland. Contrary to a report, it has no plans in France for the moment. It is now looking at opportunities in the Iberian Peninsula, and contrary to past practice, it is now ready to contemplate acquisitions, as it did recently with its investment in Fittingbox.
Fielmann plans to invest a total of more than €200 million in 2019 and 2020 on the modernization of its store network, the digitalization of its business model and its international expansion. However, company officials indicate that it has no plans to start selling glasses online, but rather to accompany the customer journey to its stores over the internet.
Investors responded positively to these announcements and to the release of pretty good results for the first quarter on April 29 with an initial spurt of 5 percent in the stock price. The company's consolidated sales grew by 6.3 percent to €371.8 million, with an increase of about 5 percent on a comparable store basis, delivering a pre-tax profit margin of 18.1 percent.
The number of glasses sold rose by 3.4 percent to 1.99 million and external sales including VAT went up by 8.9 percent to €437.6 million. In particular, sales went up by 5.6 percent in Germany, by 5.8 percent in Switzerland and by 9.8 percent in Austria, and the company remained profitable in all these markets. Sales jumped by 18.1 percent to €12.4 million in other countries, led by Poland and Italy, but the company recorded a higher loss of €1.5 million in this segment.
Across the group, consolidated net earnings increased to €46.6 million from €42.5 million in the same quarter a year ago.