In constant currencies, De Rigo's total sales rose by 4.6 percent in the first 6 months of this year, despite the generally weak eyewear market, with its two retail chains, Dollond & Aitchison in the UK and General Optica in Spain, recording increases of 5.0 and 4.6 percent, respectively. Wholesale and manufacturing revenues went down by 3.3 percent in local currencies, partly because of a 60 percent drop in shipments to its EID joint venture with Prada, whose sales rose by 32.0 percent to €19.8 million in real and constant currencies before turning the business over to Prada and Luxottica.

Profit figures will only be disclosed in September. Saleswise, the appreciation of the euro against the pound sterling and other currencies led the total reported turnover to decrease by 0.3 percent to €273.4 million. Eliminating inter-company sales, revenues from wholesale & manufacturing dropped by 5.1 percent to €79.9 million and D&A dropped by 4.6 percent to €116.5 million, while GO improved by 4.6 percent to €66.1 million.

D&A grew by 5.2 percent in pounds sterling, with a 5.5 percent increase on same-store basis per working day, thanks to aggressive marketing policies and to improved supplies from the laboratory previously sold to BBGR. At GO, which had already risen strongly in the year-ago period, sales grew by 3.2 percent in comparable terms in a flat Spanish market.

In the manufacturing division, part of the sales drop was due to a decrease in unit sales in certain European markets, primarily in Italy and France. In spite of the SARS epidemic, which affected its business in Hong Kong, De Rigo experienced a 30.2 percent sales increase in the rest of the world, particularly in Asia. Higher sales of luxury designer brands helped to offset the general decline. The group is now marketing a new collection of sunglasses under its own Sting brand which are endorsed by Michael Schumacher.