De Rigo has added a new eyewear license with Chopard, the international luxury watchmaker and jeweler based in Switzerland, starting early next year. De Rigo replaces Estede, the Austrian company that also holds the ST Dupont license. De Rigo's first Chopard collection, developed for Spring/Summer 2005, will be presented at next month's Opti-München show and will be distributed worldwide as of January.

Meanwhile, De Rigo has decided to place all its wholesale operations into a separate company, called De Rigo Vision, in view of a possible financial partnership with Viva International, which is not interested in the group's retail operations. The discussions between the two parties continue to drag on, probably stumbling on the issues of the respective valuations as their wholesale operations are of similar size.

In the first nine months of 2004, De Rigo's total sales rose by 2.1 percent to €395.8 million, with wholesale and manufacturing revenues up 1.3 percent to €104.4 million and retail sales up 8.3 percent to €299.0 million. Excluding sales to EID, the former joint venture with Prada disbanded in July 2003, wholesale revenues increased by 3.9 percent and total revenues showed increases of 7.6 percent in euros and 6.0 percent in constant currencies.

The deconsolidation of EID led to a decrease in the group's sales in the Americas to only €5.7 million, partly offsetting an increase of 3.2 percent in Europe and very positive results in the Far East. On the wholesale side, very strong sales were recorded in Japan, Hong Kong, Greece, Spain and even Germany.

Both of the company's retail networks, Dollond & Aitchison in the UK and General Optica in Spain, performed well during the period. D&A raised its sales by 5.6 percent in pounds sterling, with a 6.5 percent increase on a same-store basis, thanks to its aggressive marketing campaigns, but when translated into euros the growth rate was more like 8.8 percent. The franchised stores in the UK did 3.7 percent better in pounds and 7.0 percent better in euros.

While the store count remained largely the same at D&A, GO added 6 new stores and 4 franchises. The Spanish chain's sales rose by 7.4 percent to €107.5 million, including a 5.6 percent increase on a same-store basis. Profit figures have not been released yet.