De Rigo will not provide profit or loss figures for the first 9 months of 1999. The sales results show the effect of the company's acquisition of Dollond & Aitchison and its investments in the 51 percent owned Ranieri Argentina and De Rigo Hellas distribution operations Group turnover jumped by 232.9 percent in the period to 473 billion lire (e244m-$246m), as compared with first 9 months of 1998. Without the British chain, it would have declined by 1.2 percent.

Product-wise, D&A's emphasis on prescription eyewear caused sales of sunglasses to slip by 2.4 percent to 58.1 of the total turnover for frames and complete products. Sales of prescription frames instead jumped by 87 percent to to 41.9 percent of the total volume.

Italian sales dropped by 16.4 percent. In the rest of Europe, a 7 percent sales increase for the British chain helped raise the group's turnover by a whopping 600 percent to 385 billion lire (e199m-$200m). Without D&A, the sales increase in other European countries is limited to 8.8 percent, and it's due in part to the consolidation of De Rigo Hellas and to sales increases in France and Spain. In the Americas, sales are stable at 14.6 billion lire (e7.5m-$7.6m). In the rest of the world, a recovery in the Middle East and Asia helped improve sales by 11.7 percent to 27.7 billion lire (e14.3m-$14.4m).

De Rigo has a 51 percent stake in a new distribution company for the new Prada line of sunglasses, called Eyewear International Distribution (Eid) and based in Lugano, Switzerland. Prada owns the remaining 49 percent stake. The line will be produced by De Rigo under the Italian fashion company's strict control.

Shown only to selected visitors at last month's SILMO fair, the fashionable new line will be delivered in the Spring of 2000, targeting the medium-high segment of the market with an average price of about e150 per pair.Only selected dealers will have the privilege to sell the line. In the end, they should be about 1,000 around the world.