Ørgreen Optics and Claire Goldsmith Sunglasses are inviting their customers to a Danish-style party in New York next Saturday night, during the International Vision Expo show, to celebrate another major step in their alliance. They will be exhibiting together at the fair following the establishment of a joint U.S. sales office for their respective lines.
As we reported just before the last Silmo show (EWI No. 15-15+16 of Sept. 25, 2014), Ørgreen, one of the fastest-growing Danish brands of designer eyewear, acquired a 50 percent stake in the U.K.-based business of Claire Goldsmith to help it to grow. Since then they have introduced some of their best customers to each other, encouraging them to attend product clinics for both lines and to test-market each other's products.
Claire Goldsmith markets a line of sunglasses and prescription frames under her own name and a collection of sunglasses under the Oliver Goldsmith trademark. She is a cousin of Oliver Goldsmith, who just joined forces with Fabris Lane for his prescription frames, as reported in our last issue. Their parents were the sons of the original Oliver Goldsmith. They carried on his business but then they split the rights to his well-known brand name for sunglasses and prescription frames.
Claire Goldsmith has been handling the U.S. market directly, building up a network of about 130 accounts. Ørgreen has been trading in the U.S. over the past four years through a distributor, Inside of Blue Springs, Missouri, but its presence has been limited to around 100 accounts. The two companies have now set up a joint subsidiary together with one of the partners of Inside, Matthew Reiss, with an office in Berkeley, California.
Henrik Ørgreen, chief executive of his eponymous company, says the new investment will allow both brands to get closer to their customers and provide them with more sales support, including free POS material that they previously had to pay for. It will also lead them to offer a greater number of styles and to develop more specific products for the U.S. market. Ørgreen will continue to focus on titanium frames and Claire Goldsmith on acetate. Through its Japanese supplier, who happens also to manufacture and distribute Oliver Goldsmith prescription frames, Ørgreen is already offering specific styles for customers in Japan, Hong Kong and Korea, which are not just replicas of Western styles with an Asian fit.
Both Ørgreen and Claire Goldsmith already work directly with customers in most European markets. The only exceptions are the Netherlands for the Danish firm and Spain for the British one, as their local distributors are doing a very good job. Ørgreen stopped all its other remaining distribution contracts in region with the 2013 edition of the Silmo show, but it still keeps distributors and agents in other parts of the world.
While Claire Goldsmith remained in a reorganization mode last year, Ørgreen continued to grow by more than 20 percent without adding many new accounts. Ørgreen believes in working deeper with a selected group of retailers, sending over salespeople and designers, discussing product selection and other aspects of their collaboration.