Dino Tabacchi is seeking a buyer for a minority stake in Salmoiraghi & Viganò, the leading Italian optical retail chain of which he is currently the sole owner. Dino Tabacchi acquired the chain when he was still vice-chairman of Safilo, on June 25, 2002. De Rigo had also shown interest in the acquisition at the time, but declined to pay €68.5 million in cash plus €45 million debt for a chain of 180 stores with a 4.5 percent share of the Italian market. Some years before, De Rigo had owned the Italian chain for a few days, after acquiring it together with a Spanish retailer, General Optica, but then sold it to the management for €50 million.
The 2002 acquisition took place barely one year after Vittorio Tabacchi, former chairman of Safilo, had bought out his two brothers, Giuliano and Dino. Dino's share in the family business – the world's second largest eyewear producer - amounted to €141.5 million, 50 percent of the €283 million received by Vittorio. The following year, Dino Tabacchi reinvested the money in Salmoiraghi & Viganò.
The task of finding a minority partner has been entrusted to a financial advisor, Rothschild. The decision to sell was apparently motivated by the current market difficulties in Italy. The company expects to close the financial year ending on Sept. 30 with sales of €170 million, slightly down the previous year's €183 million. Ebitda is expected to go down from €19 million to around €12 million, equivalent to 6.6 percent of turnover, against 10 percent the previous year.
There is clearly a problem of cash flow. In the words of Edoardo Tabacchi, son of the chairman and a member of the board, the aim of the transaction is intended “to increase economic capacity in order to plan for the future.”
At last count, the total door count of the company 502 stores broke down into 436 Salmoiraghi & Viganò banners and 66 corners trading under the VistaSi name. The group's former Spacciocchiali chain no longer exists; the stores were closed and subsequently reopened as Maxistore Salmoiraghi & Viganò. A total of seven new directly operated stores and 28 new franchises have been opened in the course of the year, making a new total of 128 franchises, all under the Salmoiraghi & Viganò banner.