Interestingly, Essilor International's acquisition of Stylemark, a leading U.S.-based distributor and licensee of non-prescription readers and sunglasses, was announced last week shortly after the sale by that company of its premium Polaroid Eyewear sunglass business to Safilo, which we reported in the last issue. This seems to confirm that Essilor is only randomly interested in the branded eyewear business.
The takeover of Stylemark has been completed by FGX International (FGXI), the big American supplier of reader and sunglasses acquired by Essilor two years ago. As Essilor puts it, the transaction will allow FGXI to add new customers, to consolidate the presence of the group in the fast-growing department store segment, and to enhance the efficiency of the supply chain for the expanded business.
With the exception of the divested Polaroid Eyewear, Stylemark has been present so far mostly in North America, where it has licenses with important brands such as Disney, Dockers, Hello Kitty, Nine West and Reebok. Some of the business was inherited from its merger four years ago with Motive Eyewear, the U.S. company that had previously taken over Lantis Eyewear. At that time, before its licensing deal with Dockers, the merged company boasted annual sales of $360 million from more than 70 million pairs of eyewear including Polaroid Eyewear, which has a strong presence worldwide.
Based at Ormond Beach, Florida, the streamlined Stylemark generates around $140 million in annual revenues in North America, according to Essilor. It employs about 340 people. It sells more than 30 million pairs of readers and sunglasses through a network of nearly 30,000 retail outlets, mainly in the mass market channel through supermarkets and drugstores, as well as department stores.
The price of the acquisition was not disclosed. Essilor says that it will be financed through its existing credit lines and that its impact on earnings per share should be neutral in 2012 and accretive from 2013 on.