The first-half results of Italia Independent indicate a further deterioration of in the second quarter of an already poor first quarter, marked by the departure of one of its founders, Giovanni Acconciagioco. Its total sales fell by 34.5 percent to €16,344,000 in the first six months of this year, leading the company to post a 16.3 drop in its net results, down to a net loss of €2,656,000.
The gross margin remained more or less stable during the period, but the company's operating losses increased markedly. They amounted to a loss of €1,740,000 before amortization (Ebitda) and of €4,434,000 after amortization (Ebit).
The management blames a difficult penetration of highly saturated and competitive markets with a new and innovative brand, due in part to aggressive pricing. Another factor for the poor results has been an insufficient return on investments on the opening of new stores and the company's new U.S. subsidiary. Furthermore, the launch last year of the new I-I Eyewear family of products has generated a surplus at the wholesale level.
Eyewear represented 77.4 percent of the group's revenues in the first part of this year. Sales in Italy declined in line with the drop of the whole group, representing 47.1 percent of the segment's turnover. Sales in Germany, France and Spain, which previously generated 20 percent of the revenues, dropped by between 60 and 66 percent. Sales in the Americas grew by 44.2 percent to around €1.3 million, following the reorganization of the sales network in the second half of 2015.
The share price has tumbled to a low of around €7 from a peak of €40 in recent years. Financial debts have risen to €21.7 million against equity of €2.2 million, and the negative net cash position has gone up to €33.6 million.
The board of directors, led by Lapo Elkann has approved a proposal to raise the company's equity by up to €15 million, including shares worth €4.9 million that will be offered first to Elkann and the existing shareholders. Elkann is guaranteeing the execution of the capital increase.
To help redress the financial situation, the board is recommending a reduction of operating costs and non-strategic investments, better production planning, and a stronger focus on R&D and on key markets such as Italy, Spain, France and Germany. The pricing of the new shares will be evaluated in the next days and proposed to an extraordinary shareholders' meeting scheduled for Oct. 17 or the next day, depending on the quorum.
Meanwhile, Italia Independent has signed a new ten-year licensing deal with Industrie Testi, an Italian company that produces and sales jewelry under the Rebecca brand name. The first collection will become available in December.