Ahlers AG is a leading listed manufacturer of men’s fashion in Europe. This innovative and well-capitalised company looks about on over 95 years of swift and flexible adjustment to the requirements of the times and the markets.
For many decades Ahlers has been a reliable partner to mid-sized and major specialist retailers. Ahlers is one of the major European players who live up to high standards of quality both in terms of their brands and their products.
Objectives and strategy
Solid, sustainable and profitable growth is the objective for the medium-term development of our company. The following strategic measures are designed to help achieve this goal:
Growth driven by the Pierre Cardin and Baldessarini brands
Ahlers increased the revenues of its Premium segment over the last years. As a result, the company today generates more than two thirds of its revenues in this attractive segment of the fashion market. We intend to drive domestic and international growth through our Baldessarini and Pierre Cardin core brands. To achieve this objective, a focus will be placed on sharpening the brand profiles, expanding the product and NOS programmes and pushing ahead with the internationalisation of the brands. Baldessarini has had a presence in the USA and Canada through two agency partners since mid-2016. The brand plans to continue its entry into the North American market and to strengthen the international sales organisation in the next fiscal year. As far as Pierre Cardin is concerned, we want to further develop the French, Spanish, Belgian and Polish markets and push ahead with the expansion of the sales spaces throughout Europe. In addition to the premium brands, we also develop our Pioneer brand from a denim specialist into a full-range brand including tops. This growth is to be achieved primarily in conjunction with specialist retailers. We want to expand our own Retail operations selectively and refine existing store concepts. Being a fast growing distribution channel, the e-commerce segment is of great strategic importance and will therefore be strengthened further organisationally. We also plan to step up our licensing activities in order to expand the product spectrum of our brands and their brand power.
Strategic changes at Otto Kern
Starting January 1, 2017, the Otto Kern premium brand has launched a cooperation with two new licensees for shirts and outdoor garments. Jupiter Bekleidung GmbH, a subsidiary of Ahlers AG just like Otto Kern GmbH, will offer the Otto Kern outdoor and coats collection as a licensee. Hatico Mode GmbH, Tirschenreuth, is a new partner for the shirts of the premium brand, which meanwhile cooperates with seven licensing partners. Licensed and internally produced product groups are coordinated through a common creative management team to ensure a consistent statement for the entire collection. Otto Kern has signed agreements with three new sales agents to handle the joint distribution of all clothing products in southern Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.
Growth in conjunction with specialist retailers
Stationary specialist retailers will remain the most important sales channel for menswear. Revenue growth is to be generated through sales in branded shop-in-shop spaces which also have special significance in terms of gaining optimum brand exposure. At the same time, we continue to develop and improve our internal restocking and visual merchandising processes for these branded retail spaces. The partnership programmes, cooperation schemes and the service quality are analysed and optimised on an ongoing basis.
Increasing the export share
With international sales revenues already accounting for as much as 45 percent of total sales revenues, Ahlers is a successful European player. By systematically expanding the local sales organisations, we aim to further increase our sales revenues in Europe. In doing so, we will grow our business with selected retailers but also our own stores and partner stores. Outside Europe, e.g. in North America and the Middle East, we aim to grow our Baldessarini brand in the medium term.
Growth of the e-commerce activities
In August 2016, Ahlers launched an independent Pierre Cardin e-shop initially for Germany. At the same time, the online shops of Baldessarini and Otto Kern were revised and relaunched. The installation of the new Pierre Cardin e-shop and the online business of Baldessarini and Otto Kern in Austria and Switzerland are now on the agenda for 2017. We intend to grow our operations in this increasingly important distribution channel for the clothing sector with our four e-shops of Baldessarini, Pierre Cardin, Otto Kern and Pionier Workwear and by selling our products on marketplaces.
Growth of own Retail operations
Ahlers’ strategy is based on three retail formats with the help of which we want to expand our own Retail operations. In the first format, the Ahlers brands are offered in a multi-brand store named “Elsbach Denim Library”, offering a full assortment tailored to local needs. The multi-brand format in the style of a British library is used in Western and Eastern Europe. The affix “Denim Library” refers to Ahlers’ large range of pants and trousers, which is complemented by shirts, knitwear and outdoor wear. An Elsbach Denim Library store has a size of roughly 150 square metres. The brand mix is matched to the respective location.
The other two strategic retail formats are mono-brand stores of the Pierre Cardin and Baldessarini premium brands. These stores are operated by our company or by our partners, primarily in Eastern Europe. The further expansion is supported by ongoing analyses of locations in Germany and abroad. It is planned to open a total of three to five stores of the three above formats in 2017.
Cost leadership in procurement and logistic processes
The optimisation of procurement and logistics is an ongoing challenge to the clothing sector. The Ahlers Group constantly aims to choose the best suppliers and the most favourable logistic processes with the objective of optimising our quality, reliability and procurement costs. We constantly review existing and new locations and suppliers with a view to ensuring a reliable, cost-efficient manufacturing organisation that meets our quality and social standards. Compliance with social standards is always a precondition for signing up suppliers.