Based at Bushnell's European office at Suresnes near Paris, the new eyewear division of Bushnell Outdoor Products will be in charge of the Bollé, Bollé Safety, Cébé and Serengeti brands of eyewear owned by the American group on a global basis. The division will be run by Olivier Ciaravino, director of the group for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), who joined the group at the end of 2007 from the big Amer Sports group.

Reporting directly to Blake Lipham, chief executive of Bushnell, the 39-year-old Ciaravino will have full responsibility for the segment, which has become an important component of the group, generating about 30 percent of its total sales, estimated at around $450 million. Its global eyewear sales rose by just under 10 percent last year, but they are expected to increase by almost 20 percent in 2011.

The decision to centralize eyewear operations in a dedicated structure in France has its logic in their cultural background, as three of Bushnell's eyewear brands were born in France. One of them, Cébé, was acquired only a couple of years ago, generating an excellent return on investment in spite of a difficult recent winter season. Partly for these reasons, eyewear represents a higher proportion of the group's revenues in Europe than in the U.S., where Bushnell is stronger in hunting, golf and other outdoor activities. Besides, most of the major eyewear producers are based in Europe, where many of the international style trends are set.

However, the group's eyewear brands have been expanding in the Asia-Pacific lately, and Bollé's safety eyewear was launched in the U.S. earlier this year after its successful development in EMEA and Australia.

The company is determined to further boost the presence of its eyewear brands outside Europe. New dedicated sales and marketing directors for eyewear are being appointed at Bushnell's offices in the U.S., China, Japan and Australia, reporting to Chiaravino. A similar position has been created for the European market, to be filled by Frédéric Pons, former marketing director of the GrandOptical chain, who will join the company in August.

While budgets were previously allocated by geographical area, the eyewear division will now have its own budget, too, as well as its own management, based on a new matrix system. The supply chain will also be run from France. As part of the reorganization, Dani Lagace, who has served as product development manager for eyewear at Bushnell's head office at Overland Park, in Kansas, will move in September to Suresnes, where the total staff is going to be boosted to about 55 people.