Stephan Krug, CEO of SABU Schuh & Marketing GmbH

Interview held by Claudia Schulz

SABU Schuh & Marketing GmbH is a buying group that offers a complete service to its associates (around 600, with 1,100 doors in Germany). Founded in 1952, today the headquarters is in Heilbronn (Germany), it aggregates a sales turnover around one billion euro, according to data of 2019.
With Stephan Krug, CEO of SABU Schuh & Marketing GmbH, we delve into the current rather complex situation.  

How are footwear sales doing in the time of Coronavirus and how is the mood of German retailers?  
Retailers in general, but especially fashion and footwear retailers, are very happy that business has resumed. After a slow start, with moderate visits in the first few weeks, consumer interest and frequency are now on the rise. But of course we have to admit that we are far from last year’s levels and it is highly unlikely that we will be able to return to the same in 2020.
We note that consumers are somewhat reluctant, due to several reasons: the shopping experience is limited due to physical distancing and hygiene restrictions, but also because of financial concerns following the decrease in working hours and the increasingly impending risk to lose their jobs. Usually particularly busy and crowded locations are suffering from a significant drop in visits.
The mood is, however, cautiously optimistic on the whole.

What are the requirements that the footwear industry must meet in this context?  
The delivery of footwear and leather goods for the 2020/21 fall/winter season should take place four until six weeks later.
The whole delivery of the 2020/21 fall/winter should be provided with value date of 30 – 60 days. The later invoicing ensures the significant improvement of the liquidity situation in retail for the 2020/21 fall/winter season.
The postponement of, possibly already confirmed, delivery deadlines should be discussed individually between supplier and retailer.
For the Spring-Summer 2021 season, order deadlines should be postponed by four weeks.
In short and in general: we would like to structure a new and different calendar for the next seasons, starting next winter.

As for summer 2021, what do you recommend to your partners?
SABU GmbH, as a large German buying group, sets a good example with regard to the calendar of new seasons: we have adapted the programming of our own fairs and events to the new situation and we have postponed the programmes for the beginning of “our” spring – summer.
Traditionally, we start the order season with a trip across Germany to show the early programme (collections) and spreading the first fashion information. In the current situation, this first phase has been cancelled and replaced with a webinar open to all SABU customers, through which we have disseminated all the important information to successfully approach the next seasons. In detail: a review of the 2020 spring/summer season, the first fashion trends for SS 2021 and important advice on orders.
To date, we assume that we are able to organise our SABU FAIR TRENDS & FASHION P/E 2021 for 12-13 September 2020, obviously ensuring maximum attention to the necessary requirements for distance and health security.
In particular, we recommend our SABU members to check especially the balance between closed and open shoe types and to integrate existing stocks from spring/summer 2020 thematically.
It is also important to optimise the delivery dates of the shoes based on the true and actual timing of the business season.
Finally, all suppliers who, during the crisis, proved reliable and behaved like good partners, should be considered with particular interest.
The new seasonal timing being pushed a little forward should allow our resellers to place orders following better and more information.

What are the most important fashion themes for 2021 spring/summer?
It is too early to give detailed advice. The necessary inspirations provided by the textile collections, which are still being completed, are still missing.
Some basic trends are highlighted, but they are, of course, strongly influenced by the contingent situation of the pandemic.
A return to the essentials: clean and minimalist styles, muted and neutral colours, and many monochromatic looks. Due to this period of lockdown and physical distancing, reflections on excess consumption and the desire for experiences related to nature, colours such as white, natural shades, spice and dark summer shades will prevail. The surprise fashion touch will be ensured by a soft yellow or blurred orange, as plain colours or details.
Strong ethnic influences will replace the desire for long dream journeys: inspired by the colourful nature of Indochina and Bali, we will see many dresses and skirts with floral prints and batik motifs, combined with exciting mandarin, red and chili accents.
Slingbacks, slip-on shoes and loafers could be the trendiest footwear models. “Casual” fashion will continue to be successful, it will actually become even more important.

Let’s talk about Italy. How do you evaluate the Italian shoe manufacturers and the Italian exhibition landscape?
SABU appreciates the collaboration with Italian suppliers. Some manufacturers are very innovative and seen as a guarantee from a stylistic point of view. Even the smallest shoe factories can be very interesting.
As for fairs, I consider Expo Riva Schuh very important for larger retailers, such as chain stores. But not only. It is also the first “barometer” on how business will go. At Riva we can appreciate the anticipations of the collection, evaluate the first prototypes and analyse fashion trends with the major commercial success rate.
Micam attracts more visitors from southern Europe or overseas. Its dates, posteponed forward, make it more interesting for our fashion-oriented members.