Germany's top chains tighten grip

<p>Germany&#39;s leading booksellers beat the odds and increased sales significantly in 2008. According to the latest annual survey of trade paper <em>Buch&shy;report</em>, the top 50 bookselling companies had combined sales of &euro;3.17bn (&pound;2.89bn), up 3.3% on 2007.</p><p>Growth though was mostly due to new openings and the acquisition of smaller competitors: it was also restricted to a small band of chains that ruled the market with an ever tighter grip. While up to 2005 the 10 largest booksellers had a combined market share of around 60%, last year they controlled close to 74%.</p><p>The widely-expected race for market leadership between Thalia and DBH surprisingly never materialised: the former maintained its position at the top of the table quite comfortably with sales up 6.7% for the year to &euro;855m (&pound;780m). DBH in second place reported growth of 6.2% to &euro;755m (&pound;689m).</p><p>Even though there was a huge gap to Mayersche Buchhandlung, which ranked third with (estimated) sales up 10.3% to &euro;160m (&pound;146m), the Aachen-based independent has been last year&#39;s real success story. Owned by the Falter family the chain has established a strong foothold in the densely populated regional markets of North Rhine Westphalia and the Rhineland with a total count of 41 large, airy &quot;lifestyle&quot; bookshops.</p><p>Notable in 2008 was the ongoing decline of the once powerful book departments in the large chains of department stores. Former top dog Karstadt, which ranked among the leading German book chains only a few years ago, sold its book business to DBH in early 2008 and dropped to 11th in the ranking with sales of &euro;40m (&pound;36m). While Hertie was ranked at number 33 with sales of &euro;18m (&pound;16m), the company has since gone into receivership and faces an uncertain future.<br /><br /><strong>Germany&#39;s top book chains 2008</strong></p><p>Retailer&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Turnover (%growth)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Branches<br />1&nbsp; Thalia&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &euro;855m (+6.7%)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 294 (+23)<br />2&nbsp; DBH&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &euro;755m (+6.2%)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 503 (+35)<br />3&nbsp; Mayersche&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &euro;160m (+10.3%)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 41 (+7)<br />4&nbsp; Schweitzer&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &euro;158m (+12.9%)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 29 (+4)<br />5&nbsp; Libro&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &euro;84m (+3.7%)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 230 (+2)<br /><br /></p>