BOTTOMING OUT:Paris retailer Galeries Lafayette blamed a drop in tourism, war in Iraq and an unusually hot summer for a $10.1 million, or 8.9 million euros, first-half loss in its Galeries Lafayette/ Nouvelles Galeries department store division. Overall, the group, with interests that span the Monoprix grocery chain to financial services, said net profits grew 1 percent to $25.1 million, or 22 million euros, from $24.9 million, or 21.8 million euros, a year ago. As reported, sales in the first half increased 1.5 percent to $2.99 billion, or 2.63 billion euros, from $2.95 billion, or 2.59 billion euros, last year. Dollar figures are converted at current exchange rates. At a news conference, Galeries Lafayette co-chairmen Philippe Houze and Philippe Lemoine said sales at department stores dropped 1.9 percent in the second quarter after an increase of 4.8 percent in the first. They said sales bottomed out at the flagship Boulevard Haussmann in May, as they slumped 40 percent from the year earlier. “We’ve seen a light improvement in September,” said Lemoine. He declined to provide sales targets for the end of the year. — Robert Murphy

Germany’s crowded fashion magazine market recently thinned. The last German edition of Marie Claire hit the newsstands last month. The German Marie Claire had been published by M.C. Verlagsgesellschaft in Munich, a joint venture between Marie Claire Album SA Paris and Gruner + Jahr AG & Co. KG, Hamburg. The magazine debuted in 1990, and circulation was last placed at 151,000. Rolf Wickmann, a board member of Gruner + Jahr, said, “In the last economically weak years, Marie Claire has continuously lost turnover in an extremely competitive market.”

He added that the publishers could see no midterm prospects for Marie Claire, given ongoing weaknesses in the German advertising market. Not that the magazine scene is stagnant. Last month, G + J’s pocket format Flash bowed, and Springer’s handsized Jolie is set to follow later this month. Moreover, two independent Berlin-based fashion magazines, Deutsch and Achtung came out with their first issues this month. According to a recent study by Freundin, women’s magazines constitute the largest segment in the German market both in terms of advertising volume and copies sold. In 2002, advertising revenues for women’s magazines in Germany exceeded $855 million, or 750 million euros, the study said. There are currently more than 60 fashion and women’s magazines in Germany, all competing for a readership estimated at 22 million women above 14 years of age. — Melissa Drier

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