De Rigo booked a 16.5 percent increase in wholesale revenues in the first half of 2010 thanks to strong sales growth in Asia and South America, and to its house brand Police. The group also enjoyed a recovery in luxury brands, which showed a 4 percent increase during the period.
The improvement in luxury brand sales was most significant in Asia, while European clients focused on mid-tier products, a trend that favored the group's house brands. Prescription frames enjoyed stronger growth than sunglasses during the period.
Michele Aracri, De Rigo's managing director in charge of its wholesale division, forecast that the division will finish the year with revenues about 4 percent higher than the 2008 level of €178 million, erasing the 10 percent dip experienced in 2009 due to the economic recession.
The improved business trend prompted the company to hire 35 people with temporary contracts for its production lines, which worked six Saturday shifts in the first half. Production increased by 15 percent in the first six months to respond to clients' demand and to replenish inventories that were slashed last year. Production is expected to follow a similar trend in the second half even though no Saturday shifts are scheduled for the time being.
The group will continue to reorganize its brand portfolio and is due to announce a new license agreement and the subsequent relinquishment of one of its existing deals by the end of the year.
In March, De Rigo signed on the Italian fashion brands Blumarine and Blugirl and dropped their Italian peer Etro. In July, the group presented 24 new models, 12 prescription frames and 12 sunglasses, for the Blumarine range, which were integrated with some models of the previous collection. The Blugirl collection is scheduled to be ready for 2011.
The company also launched the first e-commerce platform for its Police brand, which will sell eyewear, watches, leather goods and jewelry. The service is currently available in the U.K., Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands. The group decided to focus on the U.K. market because a survey showed that most visitors on the Police website come from that market because of strong brand awareness. The brand also enjoys significant visibility in Germany, France and Spain, according to Aracri.
He stressed that the group wants to increase its presence in the U.K., where it is performing well both in terms of wholesale and retail. The company is seeking to optimize synergies with the 700 stores of the Dollond & Aitchison/Boots Opticians network it jointly owns with Alliance Boots.
The Italian eyewear company is also rolling out a web-based order service for points of sale in France, Spain, Italy and Germany. The system enables clients to check the level of available merchandise on stock and the company can inform them of any promotional offers. The program started about a month ago in France, where about 90 percent of its clients are already connected.