Europe's Embargo Crisis Brings Balance

When millions of sweaters, bras, trousers and blouses were seized and held hostage in European customs warehouses last August, it hardly resembled the end...

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The group's import volume is on the rise, and the goal is to expand it to 3 billion euros, or $3.82 billion, spokesman Jörg Howe said. Industry sources placed KarstadtQuelle's current imports at well under 2 billion euros, or about $2.5 billion.

"It's just much more efficient," Howe said of the link with Li Fung, which, as a procurement partner for international operations such as Marks & Spencer and Abercrombie & Fitch, brings KarstadtQuelle greater buying power.

Besides more competitive pricing, the partnership offers greater flexibility in procurement processes and will make it possible to offer up to 12 collections a year in the future, the group said.

While KarstadtQuelle's key decision-makers will remain at headquarters in Essen, Germany, design centers to set collection specifications will be set up in Europe and Asia over the coming months.

With contributions from Melissa Drier and Damien McGuinness, Berlin, and Amanda Kaiser, Milan

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