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New horizons for kika/Leiner

SIGNA Real Estate

SIGNA rescued the celebrated furniture company kika/Leiner in June 2018, ushering in a new era in the history of one of Austria’s largest and most popular furniture stores.

The takeover and integration of the chain of furniture stores into the SIGNA Group is a strategic step that offers the company a unique opportunity to restructure its operations and safeguard its future. Immediately after the deal was signed, we introduced major steps with regard to the reorganisation and modernisation of the company, which had fallen on hard times due to the mismanagement of an international investor. The future is bright once again for Austria’s time-honoured and most renowned furniture brand, thanks to the financial stability, broad-based retail expertise and digital mastery of the SIGNA Retail Group. These will provide an ideal foundation for the next steps in the comprehensive future-orientated strategy of this company with its rich 100-year legacy.

Excellent results in the six months since the takeover

Since SIGNA acquired the company, much progress has been made at kika/Leiner. A new top management team was put in place in mid-October 2018. Veteran retailer Reinhold Gütebier came on as CEO, followed by Oliver Müther and Darius Kauthe – both experienced retail experts in their own right – to serve as COO and CFO, respectively. Immediately after taking office, Gütebier toured all of kika/Leiner’s stores in Austria to learn about the needs of both staff and customers: important insight that has proven invaluable for the restructuring strategy.

A few weeks after the new management took the reins and introduced the first tough interventions in the structure and workflows, these two classic brands reported a sharp rise in both footfall and sales once again. Autumn results were strong, the year ended with great sales trends for November and December 2018, and kika/Leiner’s new year got off to a growth-driven start, outperforming expectations significantly.

Clear positioning for both brands

As part of the initial modernisation process, the new management developed a novel concept for the group’s future that includes a rebranding strategy for kika and Leiner. The brand names, with their high profile and loyal customer base, will naturally stay the same – our challenge is to put a sharper focus on their USPs. Leiner, in business for more than 100 years, has for decades been one of the premier furniture stores in Austria for quality and sustainability.

Leiner will therefore continue to present as a furniture store with high-end yet affordable offerings. The product range, which is known for the highest quality, includes several exclusive furniture brands. Customers will once again be able to rely on Leiner’s well-trained interior experts for all-round consulting and planning services. kika stores will focus on younger, more cosmopolitan and trend-conscious customers in future, a target group looking for fresh, bold styles as well as ample and affordable choices. We plan to put kika’s great value-for-money proposition front and centre in the new brand profile.

Targeted modernisation measures

Additional modernisation measures for the company will include expansion of the workforce and additional targeted training. Greater focus will be placed on in-house staff training. We are also planning a recruitment drive for 160 new apprentices in 2019, who will contribute to strengthening the company over the long term.

Another key lever in our innovation strategy is bolstering the staff’s customer service skills. We are recruiting 50 interior experts in an attempt to get closer to our customers in future and better respond to their individual needs. A number of efficiency-boosting initiatives will reshape the chain’s logistics operations and make the process chain more efficient in terms of speed, time and costs.

Happy birthday kika

kika had good reason to celebrate in early March: the furniture brand’s 46th birthday. We are offering several events and deals to celebrate the birthday with our customers.

The objective for the next weeks and months is crystal clear for CEO Reinhold Gütebier, “Keeping up the pace of the last months and continuing a path to growth. Our customers can look forward to an even stronger customer focus, more personalised service, more attractive offers and much higher service quality at kika and Leiner!”