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EssilorLuxottica Plans $8B Acquisition of Optical Retailer

GrandVision has over 7,200 stores globally.

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EssilorLuxottica announced plans to acquire GrandVision, a Netherlands-based optical retailer, in a deal worth up to $8 billion.

The company, which makes ophthalmic lenses, frames and sunglasses, will acquire Hal Optical Investments B.V.’s 76.72% interest in GrandVision, then launch a mandatory public offer for all outstanding GrandVision shares, according to a press release.

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Through the acquisition, EssilorLuxottica will expand its optical retail platform, primarily in Europe, by adding more than 7,200 stores globally, over 37,000 employees and $4.1 billion in annual revenue.

Among GrandVision’s holdings are the For Eyes chain in the U.S. and Vision Express in Great Britain. Reuters notes that the deal will give EssilorLuxottica “control of more than 7,000 outlets across the world where it already sells brands including Varilux lenses and Ray-Ban sunglasses.”

The transaction is expected to close in 12 to 24 months. It is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

EssilorLuxottica currently operates over 10,000 stores and several proprietary online platforms with a strong presence in the Americas. GrandVision operates more than 7,200 optical stores and online platforms in more than 40 different countries, with a strong presence in Europe and Latin America.

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Leonardo Del Vecchio, executive chairman of EssilorLuxottica, said: “Following the creation of EssilorLuxottica, which I strongly pursued, the acquisition of GrandVision represents the realization of a vision that has guided my actions and the growth of Luxottica over all these years. With GrandVision we will be able to develop our retail network, finally extended throughout the geographies, and fully enable our multichannel and digital platforms. We will raise the quality of in-store experience for products, brands and services for the benefit of all consumers and our wholesale customers.”

Stephan Borchert, CEO of GrandVision, said: “The future integration of GrandVision with EssilorLuxottica brings new opportunities to GrandVision’s business, its well-established retail banners, stores, employees and all our stakeholders. Furthermore, it will create a truly global eyecare and eyewear company that is ideally positioned to capture changing consumer needs and behaviors, and provide its customers with a high quality optical omni-channel customer experience. This transaction is expected to provide value to GrandVision’s shareholders, while allowing for the acceleration of GrandVision’s growth strategy through the expansion of our store network and online platforms. EssilorLuxottica’s interest in joining forces with GrandVision is a clear recognition of GrandVision’s successful strategy, our state-of-the-art retail platform and our people. We look forward to joining forces with EssilorLuxottica in what will be an exciting new chapter ahead.”

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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Safilo Group Acquires 70% of Blenders Eyewear

Chase Fisher will remain as CEO of Blenders.

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Safilo Group announced the acquisition of a 70 percent stake in the equity of California-based Blenders Eyewear LLC.

Safilo purchased the stake from Chase Fisher, the company’s founding entrepreneur and full owner.

Launched in San Diego, Blenders Eyewear “has built an advanced e-commerce platform with unique digital and social media skills, which has achieved fast and profitable growth thanks to its world-class digital capabilities,” according to a press release. The company generates about 95 percent of its business through its proprietary direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform, more recently complemented by the opening of the first Blenders flagship store in San Diego.

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Blenders Eyewear’s products “are inspired by the California active and progressive lifestyle and offer a compelling price-to-value eyewear proposition, particularly appealing to a broad range of consumers with a focus on Millennials and Generation Z, both female and male,” according to the release.

The brand has fueled its growth through highly social marketing strategies, partnering with influencers, athletes, and lifestyle enthusiasts and arranging product collaborations.

In 2019 the company expects to reach profitable net sales of approximately $42 million, all generated in the U.S. and up around 40 percent compared to the previous year.

Angelo Trocchia, Safilo’s CEO, said: “We are thrilled to welcome to Safilo an inspiring brand like Blenders Eyewear, a fast-growing e-commerce-powered business at the forefront of the latest direct to consumer and omni-channel capabilities, which will enrich our proprietary portfolio with new strong skills and a particular focus on our key US market.”

Chase Fisher, founder and CEO of Blenders Eyewear, said: “This marks a huge step forward for Blenders and we’re excited to be part of Safilo to reach a wider marketplace. Safilo’s product know-how and global distribution capabilities are the perfect complement to our digitally native business model, opening up worldwide expansion potential. We’re on a mission to build a thriving global community that inspires people to live in forward motion.”

Safilo acquired the 70 percent controlling interest in the company, based on a total value on a cash and debt free basis  equal to $90 million. The cash consideration to be paid at closing is subject to customary price adjustments.

Fisher will retain full ownership of 30 percent of the shares and will remain CEO of Blenders Eyewear, which will continue to run out of its San Diego home.

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Sunglass Maker to Cut 295 Jobs and Close Most of Its Daytona Beach Operations

It’s being integrated into the Luxottica profile.

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Sunglass maker Costa Del Mar plans to close most of its operations in Daytona Beach, FL, with 295 jobs to be cut in the process.

The first job eliminations are set to take place on Feb. 7, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. Costa employs 350 people in Daytona Beach currently.

In a letter to state, county and city officials, the company cited “changing business needs” as the reason for its decisions.

“Certain sales and marketing functions” will remain in Daytona Beach, the newspaper reports, quoting the latter.

The layoffs will continue through the end of September.

WESH-TV reports that jobs are being moved to New York and California.

Costa was acquired by Essilor in 2014. Last year, Essilor merged with Luxottica, with the combined company being called EssilorLuxottica.

According to WESH, the company said that Costa is “an incredibly special and unique brand” and that “we see great growth potential for it in the future.”

“EssilorLuxottica’s decision to integrate Costa into the Luxottica profile will allow the brand to fully leverage on Luxottica’s strengths in everything from product innovation to manufacturing to supply chain to distribution networks, helping it reach its full potential,” the company said in the statement.

Read more at the Daytona Beach News-Journal

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Kim Kardashian Eyewear Deal to End Early Amid Disappointing Sales

The U.S. launch was a flop.

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A an agreement under which reality TV and social media star Kim Kardashian West promotes an eyewear brand is likely to end prematurely, Israeli news site Haaretz reports.

Kardashian has a two-year deal with apparel retailer Castro to tout Carolina Lemke eyewear. But discussions are underway for the deal to be cut off at the halfway point because of sluggish sales, according to Haaretz.

Kardashian was hired to boost the brand’s U.S. launch in the second quarter of 2019. Kardashian’s deal included a $6 million deal and an ownership share in Carolina Lemke USA.

But the launch was a flop, Haaretz reports. The company reportedly sold only $1 million worth of the eyewear and returned 300,000 pairs to Israel.

Castro released a statement saying: “The company’s Carolina Lemke Limited subsidiary and Ms. Kim Kardashian West are together exploring the option of adjusting the contract terms with Kim Kardashian West and the company she controls, including the matter of the period Kim Kardashian West provides her services.”

Read more at Haaretz

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