A german company looking to take Europe by storm

With a net profit of 172.9 million euro, the Hamburg-based optical chain Fielmann was founded in 1972 by Günther Fielmann. Currently the company is expanding its foothold in the European market with a business model characterised by shortening the chain and implementing a key development policy focused on the Italian market. We took a close look at this company and its future business prospects with Ivo Andreatta, the Country Manager for Italy.

Could you describe to our readers how your company is organized worldwide?
Fielmann is a listed family business. Over 24 million people wear glasses. We’re the market leader in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. With only 5% of all optical stores in Germany, we generate a sales market share of 21% and 53% in terms of unit sales. This is proof of the value for money we offer. Since 2015 we have been driving our expansion in Italy, our fastest growing market, and we now operate 13 stores here. To meet Italy’s need for eyewear fashion, we developed the “Made in Italy” collection with our Italian designer and our longstanding Italian production partners.

Your governance includes Marc Fielmann as Co-Ceo: what are the advantages of this step?
Günther and Marc Fielmann are well aware of the needs of different generations. They combine experience with innovation. Günther Fielmann has removed the stigma associated with health insurance glasses, thereby democratizing eyewear fashion. Together they will ensure that Fielmann maintains its strict customer focus and gains new opportunities thanks to international expansion and digitization.

What are your latest economic data?
The expectations for the 2017 financial year have been met: 8.1 million pairs of glasses were sold (previous year: 8.0 million). Our consolidated sales increased to € 1.39 billion (previous year: € 1.34 billion) and net income rose to € 172.9 million (previous year: € 171.2 million). 

What innovations have you introduced to your business model?
Fielmann is a designer, manufacturer, distributor and optician. We cover every stage of the value chain. By cutting out intermediaries we guarantee the best prices for our customers. This is because we see ourselves in our customers. We consult them because we like to have advice in accordance with our philosophy “You are the customer”. 

What are your main markets and in which area are you focusing development?
Fielmann operates stores in 13 countries across Europe. We expand into adjacent countries to fulfill our customers’ needs. Before opening in Italy, thousands of Italian customers traveled to Austria and Switzerland to buy glasses at Fielmann’s. In our core markets – Germany, Switzerland and Austria – we handle growing demand by moving into bigger locations, hiring hundreds of opticians every year and investing millions in digital technologies. Fielmann’s mid-term goal is to operate around 700 stores, selling more than 8.6 million pairs of glasses with sales revenues of € 1.8 billion. In Italy we plan to operate 40 stores, selling 500,000 pairs of glasses for a total of € 80 million.