Freemans Ireland & Russia


Freemans is to break into the Irish market in the New Year. There
will be two, 632-page fashion-only catalogues per year and a
fully transactional website. Katharnia Zahn, general manager,
Ireland, commented on the launch, “The recent growth into
the Irish market presents an excellent opportunity for us. We
have been studying the market extensively and believe that there
is a gap for Freemans in Ireland. The first overseas launch could
lay the foundation for future international expansion.”

The website will play an important role in the venture. Key
benefits will include zoom features, internet-exclusive products,
price updates and instant stock detail. There be an intensive
online activity programme as well as welcome and activation
initiatives that will run throughout the year.

Meanwhile, Freemans’ parent company, Otto Group, has announced
its expansion into Russia. Otto and the PPE Group of Moscow,
Russia’s leading mail order company, have agreed to form a joint
venture with the aim of establishing a fashion mail order
business covering the entire Russian Federation. The Otto Group
will hold a 70 per cent stake and the PPE Group 30 per cent. The
PPE Group currently has a net turnover of approximately US$105
million and some 10 million customers. After a pilot phase, two
companies will be set up: Direct Catalogue Service based in
Moscow will launch during 2007 to market specifically selected
Otto, Bon Prix and Witt Weiden ranges. The second company,
Business Service, will set up and run the necessary warehousing
and logistics operation.

Michael Otto, CEO of the Otto Group, said, “This investment
represents a further major expansion of our business in Russia.
Our joint venture will be able to build on the familiarity of the
Otto name, from which the other two companies, Bon Prix and Witt
Weiden will also benefit significantly. The PPE Group is the
ideal partner for us. PPE is Russia’s leading mail order group
and will contribute its extensive knowledge of the Russian market
to our joint venture.”

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