Jean-Marie de Bourgoing will retire next October, at the age of 60, as managing director of La Guilde des Lunetiers, the French cooperative that franchises more than 900 Krys, Vision Plus and Vision Originale stores in France. De Bourgoing, who held the post for about 10 years, had already prepared his succession by hiring as secretary general one and a half ago Antoine de Roffignac, a 46-year-old executive who will take over his place.

The group reports a 9.3 percent increase to e490 million for its affiliated stores in 2001, with sales increases on a comparable basis of 12 percent for Vision Originale and 6-7 percent for the other two formats.

A group of 32 Belgian independent opticians that were using the Krys banner is affiliated with La Guilde as of last Jan. 1, as previously indicated. The planned acquisition of a chain of hearing aid stores trading under the Entendre banner was formalized a few days ago. Both moves are interesting. The Belgian optical market, estimated at e250-300 million, is much more fragmented than the French one. According to La Guilde, hearing aids could represent 30 percent of its retail sales in a few years' time.

Meanwhile, Krys has launched its first commercial TV spot. Separately, La Guilde has become the first retailer to finish in its own laboratories the progressive lenses of Seiko, with which it has had an exclusive sales contract since 1998.