Allison, the fast-growing Italian eyewear company, has signed a licensing agreement with Benetton Group that will significantly boost its sales and ease the way to a possible listing on the stock exchange, like its competitors Luxottica, Safilo and Marcolin, following its recent acquisition by an Italian investment fund, Carisma, owned by Bain & Company.

The deal gives Allison the right to design, produce and distribute worldwide optical eyewear and sunglasses under the United Colors of Benetton and Sisley brands. It is valid until 2013. A first line of adult optical glasses bearing the United Colors of Benetton brand name is expected to be launched in the Spring of 2007, starting with prescription frames to be sold in a few countries such as Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the UK. The licence for United Colors and Sisley was previously held by Metzler Italia, a former property of the Moulin group which has since gone bankrupt and into liquidation.

As part of its new United Colors line, Allison plans to present an innovative metal frame with interchangeable color parts to suit the wearer's own mood. A wider selection of children's and adult styles for both United Colors and Sisley will be launched in the Fall season. The deal is expected to generate about €35 million in annual sales for Allison when the collections are fully rolled out.

Allison is forecast to book sales of more than €100 million this year, representing impressive growth from only €13 million in 1999, when the company was founded. Last year sales reached €84 million. In a newspaper interview Silvio Vecellio, chairman of Allison and a former sales director of Safilo, indicated that the company's natural course is too seek a listing on the Bourse. Still, he expects Allison to continue enjoying strong growth in the coming years and believes that it would be premature to float the company now.

Allison has licenses for the following eyewear brands: Bikkembergs, Cerruti, Dunhill, Exte, Frankie Morello, Gianfranco Ferré, GF Ferré, Iceberg, Les Copains, John Richmond, Mercedes-Benz, Missoni, Romeo Gigli, Try, Try Change, Trudi and Vivienne Westwood.