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, Pioneer and Baldessarini brands
Having steadily grown the revenues of its premium segment in recent years, Ahlers 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 collections and continuing our internationalisation. For Pierre Cardin, we want to expand the French, Spanish and Belgian markets and push ahead with retail space expansion throughout Europe. Following the start-up of the Russian joint venture, we intend to install a sales organisation for Pierre Cardin to intensify existing customer relations, e.g. through the introduction of NOS services as well as to win new customers. As far as Baldessarini is concerned, we will push ahead with the brand’s international expansion in Europe and overseas. In addition, the new Managing Director is tasked with developing a strategy for making inroads into the Asian markets in 2018. The Pioneer Authentic Jeans brand will be turned from a jeans specialist into an integrated lifestyle brand offering not only jeans but also tops. We want to grow primarily at the specialist retail level and will therefore continue to refine our partnership schemes and POS concepts.
We want to expand our own Retail operations selectively and optimise 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, with priority attached to wholesale e-commerce distribution. Licenses are to expand the product ranges of our brands and strengthen their respective brand identities.
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. Besides the physical retail stores, a growing focus is placed on the e-commerce retail customers, who are served by the company’s specialists in cooperation with the sales organisations of the brands.
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 we aim to grow our Baldessarini brand in the medium term. The first successes have been achieved in Canada, and distribution in Asia is set to start in the fiscal year 2018.
Growth of the e-commerce activities
Ahlers operates four online shops of the Pierre Cardin, Baldessarini, Otto Kern and Pionier Workwear brands. The Baldessarini online shop is available not only in Germany but also in Austria and Switzerland. 2018 will see us focus on the further expansion of the new Pierre Cardin online shop in Germany. The ongoing internationalisation of the marketplace business is on the agenda for all brands. 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 two to three stores in 2018.
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, speed 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. In 2018 we will therefore expand the focus of our procurement activities to the southern Mediterranean and reduce production in Poland. At the same time, the Group’s unfinished goods logistics will be relocated from Germany to Poland. Compliance with social standards remains a precondition for signing up suppliers and service partners.