Confirming a report in the French press, Alain Afflelou says it's in advanced negotiations for the acquisition of another French network of optical stores. Lynx Optical, which was said to be a likely candidate, denies the existence of negotiations. Afflelou has given up on a previous plan to merge with another smaller network of franchised stores, Lissac, whose future status may depend on the outcome of various judicial proceedings now under way.

Afflelou is also looking for acquisition opportunities in neighboring Spain. The vast majority of Afflelou's 465 own and franchised shops is in France. A total of 43 openings, which compensated for 7 shutdowns, helped raise the network's total turnover by 20 percent in 2000 from last year's level of 320 million euros. A further sales increase of 15-20 percent is budgeted for 2001, with the total number of Afflelou outlets set to grow to 500 by the end of the year.