The sale last June of the group's interest in Ranieri, its distribution subsidiary for Argentina, weighed negatively on the group's revenues for the first 9 months of 2002, as Ranieri represented some 3.5 percent of DR's wholesale & manufacturing revenues. Due to the difficult UK market and to changes in the supply chain, sales at Dollond & Aitchison, the group's British optical chain, were still negative, though slightly higher than those reported for the year-ago period. And the revenues from EID, the group's joint venture with Prada, continued to be depressed by a change in the distribution system from sales subsidiaries to agents and distributors.

As a result of all these negative factors, the group's consolidated turnover grew by a mere 1.5 percent to e390 million in the first 9 months of 2002, compared with the same period in 2001. Excluding Ranieri's sales, the increase would have been more like 2.4 percent. In particular, wholesale and manufacturing revenues grew by 9.4 percent to e108.1 million, but excluding the Argentinian operation, they would have risen by 13.3 percent.

D&A's sales fell by 4.4 percent to e181 million in euros, but in pounds sterling they declined by only 3.7 percent, with a 5 percent drop on a same-store basis, marking a slight improvement from the 5.5 percent decline reported for the first 6 months. In September, the level of service provided by the prescription laboratory sold by D&A to BBGR improved significantly. The group's 149 franchised stores had a slight 1.6 percent sales decline in euro terms during the 9-month period.

The continuing progress of General Optica, the group's Spanish retail chain, could not offset the difficulties of the British chain, leading to a 0.9 percent drop in DR's total retail sales to e275.1 million, or about two-thirds of the group's consolidated sales. GO raised its turnover by 12.7 percent to e94 million through a combination of higher sunglass sales, a 9.3 percent gain on a same-store basis and an increase in the number of stores to 140.

Net sales of Prada eyewear by the EID joint venture fell by 15.7 percent to e20.9 million for the first 9 months of 2002, representing an improvement over the 25.9 percent drop posted in the first 6 months, but while revenues were down, unit sales grew by 22.8 percent, due to the new distribution structure.

The group's sales of luxury and designer brands increased by 45 percent at the wholesale level. Analyzing the group's wholesale & manufacturing sales by geographic area, Germany performed badly in the 9 month period as did Singapore, where DR decided to close its distribution subsidiary. On the other hand, Japan, Korea, Great Britain, France and Italy all performed very well.