Oct 27, 2009
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Neckermann.de gains from exit of local peer Quelle

Oct 27, 2009

FRANKFURT, Oct 27 (Reuters) - German mail-order company neckermann.de is benefiting after its venerable local peer Quelle was dragged down by its insolvent parent company Arcandor (AROG.DE), which neckermann.de used to be part of.


Quelle's German business is in the process of being shut down after it failed to attract a new investor.

"The surprising end of Quelle has lead to a great deal of interest from Quelle customers," Ulf Cronenberg, head of marketing at neckermann.de said on Tuesday 27 October.

Neckermann.de was part of the Arcandor group until 2008, when private equity company Sun Capital Partners acquired a controlling 51 percent stake. Arcandor's mail-order unit Primondo still holds 49 percent in neckermann.de.

Neckermann.de Chief Executive Henning Koopmann declined to comment on what Primondo had in mind for its stake, but said that there was no risk to be expected. "We very consciously became an independent company early on."

Quelle was No. 2 in the German mail-order market after U.S. bellwether Amazon (AMZN.O) and followed by German peer Otto. Loss-making Neckermann.de is the country's No. 4.

But gaining market share is not neckermann.de's priority.

"It is not our goal to reach higher sales, but higher profitability," said Helmut Steurer, head of finance, IT and logistics at neckermann.de.

Neckermann.de expects 2009 group sales of about 1.2 billion euros ($1.79 billion) and aims to break even in 2012.

"We have stopped the downswing and are seeing first signs of success in our online business," CEO Koopmann said.

Unlike Quelle, neckermann.de decided to focus on e-commerce early on and started its online shop www.neckermann.de in 1995. Online sales now make up about 60 percent of its revenue.

"We want to become a pure online dealer," Koopmann said. "I doubt whether we shall still have a 1,000 page catalogue in ten years," he added.

(Reporting by Eva Kuehnen; Editing by David Cowell)

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