A new alliance between branded shoe supplier Leomil Group and footwear importer and distributor Cortina Group has created a major player in the European market for shoes, fashion, logistics and licensed characters.
 
Between them, the two companies account for more than US$200m in sales and have complementary skills in areas including production, distribution, marketing, brands, concept development and support services.

Dirk Vanderschueren, owner of Cortina Group says: "Cortina and Leomil complement each other perfectly. The synergy is going to be huge."

Based in the Netherlands, Leomil Group supplies branded shoes based on licensed characters such as Disney Princess, Dora, Bob the Builder and Spongebob to most European countries.

In recent years, the group has also developed a significant apparel and accessories business called Leomil Fashion which includes underwear based on character licenses.

Cortina Group, based in Belgium, is one of Europe's largest importers and distributors of shoes, with a strong position in private label and production facilities in the Far East. In 2006 the company sold more than 20m pairs of shoes to more than 1000 customers in 15 countries.

In addition, Cortina Group includes FLA-Europe, a specialist provider of financial, logistical and administrative business services with customers including G-star, Keen, Kenneth Cole, Dr Martens, Mexx, Replay and Gant.
 
Albert Milhado, owner of Leomil Group adds: "By joining forces with us, Cortina can expand its operation to apparel and its knowledge of product development to the booming field of licensed characters.

"Leomil in turn can concentrate on core competences including marketing, franchising and concept development by transferring support services for finance, logistics and administration to FLA-Europe.

"It will make us more flexible and enable us to react more rapidly than ever to changes in markets and consumer preferences."
 
The companies say both the Cortina and Leomil names will remain unchanged in European markets, and all key personnel in design, marketing, sales and management will be retained.

Albert Milhado will take responsibility for licenses within both Leomil and Cortina.