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Footwear Maker Alpina Breaks Even in 2011

Žiri, 06 March (STA) - Footwear maker Alpina broke even in 2011, recovering from a EUR 5m loss it made the year before due to the devaluation of its investments in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sales revenues increased by 10% to EUR 56m, the company said Tuesday.

The group around the Žiri-based company, which employs some 1,700 people in its 13 companies, also ended the year in the black, but its sales revenues decreased compared to the year before.

Alpina director Matjaž Lenassi told the STA that the company had been focusing on reorganising its sales network in 2011.

Alpina made a huge step forward with its fashion footwear in Russia, while the sale of the company's sports lines increased mostly in Central Europe, he added.

The sales on the Russian market, which is almost as big as the entire European market, continue increasing this year, Lenassi said, expressing hope that the company would also increase its share in the Russian sports shoes market.

Touching on the mild winter, Lenassi said that this year started out worse than last, as Alpina faced major problems on American markets, where snows came very late.

Alpina, which increased its production by 120,000 pairs of shoes in 2011 compared to the year before, is meanwhile facing financing problems, and is still negotiating loans with several banks.

"The price and payment terms pressures are getting worse, which is a huge problem in a situation like the one we have in Slovenia, where financing is aggravated," Lenassi also said.

He moreover said that his company was considering cooperating with another Slovenian shoemaker, Peko, but would not inject fresh capital into it to become a minority owner.

"We have, however, been and still are interested in cooperating as equal partners," Lenassi explained, adding that cooperation would be best in retail, where Alpina is making losses and has been closing unprofitable stores.

He moreover fears that Alpina, which employs around 400 workers at its headquarters and another 150 in stores around Slovenia, will have to move its development department to Bosnia because there is no school for shoemakers in Slovenia.

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