A model in its licensed Claude Montana collection won the Silmo d'Or award last month, giving a considerable boost to Bourgeois' young management team set up by Matthieu Clodong, the 30-year-old executive appointed as CEO in June of 2001. His team was recently reinforced with the arrival of an even younger export manager, Helena Rocha Filipe, and the appointment of Xavier Lacroix to the new position of group marketing manager. Lacroix, who is 34 years old, comes from a start-up company in the Lyon region, where his father and grandfather were both opticians.

Meanwhile, the company is reporting a net loss of only 21,000 for the first 6 months of this year, continuing a recovery that began in 2001 with an operating loss of e402,000 as compared to the loss of e1.8 million of 2000. Revenues declined by 9.5 percent to 7,015,800 in the first half, but the decline should be limited to only about 2 percent for the full year.

While unit sales of frames are declining, the average price has gone up by about 15 percent, and the company has decided to stop working with opticians who don't pay their bills on time in order to improve its own margins. Additionally, Burgeois is experiencing growing sales for its semi-finished high-tech lenses as well as its special tri-focal BiB contact lenses, especially outside France.

Frames represent about 32 percent of group sales, and their components are made in Italy, China and Korea and then finished and mounted in France. Exports are only 10 percent of sales, but a new exclusive distribution contract has been signed in Russia. The biggest markets are Spain and Portugal for lenses and Belgium, Denmark, the Arab countries and Japan for frames. Sales in the USA are satisfactory, but Bourgois would like to find a distributor also in Canada.