The Bushnell Performance Optics group is beginning to take advantage of improved processes and synergies among its brands to grow its European business. Orders taken at its two contiguous Bollé and Serengeti stands at the recent Silmo fair in Paris were more than 6 times higher than those taken one year earlier, partly because customers were led from one stand to the other, and offered good demonstrations of new sunglasses such as Serengeti's new ultra-thin lenses with special filters that improve the contrast between yellow and green, while reducing eye fatigue.
Sharing customers has become an all-year-round business for the European salespeople of both brands and those of Bushnell binoculars and telescopes. Furthermore, the establishment of a European warehouse in Rotterdam for the whole group and the more recent introduction of sales forecasting methods have allowed the group to deliver most of its models to European customers immediately, instead of keeping customers waiting for some models for up to 90 days as in the past.
Deliveries of Bollé sunglasses in Europe grew by about 18 percent this year. Those of the more technical Serengeti line of sunglasses nearly doubled, representing about 30 percent of Bushnell's total revenues in the continent, as compared to only 5 percent prior to the US brand's acquisition in the past year. Serengeti's European presence was previously limited mostly to the UK.
Bollé made a lot of progress this year also in the USA, particularly in the past few months where Sunglass Hut International stopped offering Oakley's products (see separate article earlier on in this issue). Worldwide, Bollé and Serengeti enjoyed together an overall sales increase of more than 10 percent in 2001, generating good profitability, but the brands' sales in the USA were flat. Sales of Bushnell products dropped by about 5 percent, particularly in the USA, and the situation worsened in the 2nd half of this year, due to the recession, yet the margins were still positive. The whole group will end up with slightly higher earnings this year, but its total revenues will be down to about $220 million, as compared to $230 million in 2000.
Meanwhile, Bollé is considering moving from its French factory to Taiwan the production of its safety glasses, which represented about 15 percent of the brand's sales of $60 million this year. The number of employees at the Oyonnax plant should remain at about 112 as the manufacture of Bollé sunglasses may then be made more in-house, instead of being partly subcontracted in the region.