The new line of MINI branded sunglasses will be developed by De Rigo in close cooperation with the design department responsible for the recently re-styled British icon car as part of a new exclusive 2-year licensing agreement with the BMW Group. It will be sold in each of the 80-plus markets served by De Rigo, starting with the network of MINI automobile dealers in May, in connection with the launch of a new convertible model at the Geneva automotive show. The distribution will be extended to optical retailers and better department stores in September.

De Rigo is also launching now two new lines of sunglasses under two women's apparel brands of the Italian Miroglio group ? Caractère, an international high-end brand, and Elena Mirò, which is better known in the Hispanic countries. A long-term licensing deal may follow if sales are satisfactory.

Acting through a licensee, De Rigo is launching a women's fragrance and a line of watches under its own Police brand of eyewear, which represents about one-third of its wholesale revenues. Further brand extensions into footwear and stationery are under consideration. The Police brand is benefiting from the strong popularity of David Beckham, the British soccer player, with whom De Rigo's sponsorship contract has been extended from the UK and Japan to the rest of the world. An Italian singer, Edoardo Bennato, is endorsing De Rigo's Lozza brand, the oldest one in the Italian optical industry.

Meanwhile, De Rigo is scaling down the operations of its European sales subsidiaries, following the implementation of new SAP supply chain management software on Jan. 1, which will allow the company to cut costs and to service customers more efficiently from a single warehouse in Italy. Logistics and several administrative functions are being phased out in Germany, where De Rigo's existing operations is now focusing on sales. The same will happen shortly at the group's other offices in Holland, Spain, France and Greece.