Essilor has made two new important acquisitions during the first quarter in the U.K. and Turkey as part of its program to expand its growing sun segment. It signed an agreement to buy a majority stake in Merve, a Turkish producer based in Istanbul that owns two well-known local brands of sunglasses, Ossé and Mustang.
It also made in important move in the British market with its acquisition through its FGX International subsidiary of Three Hundred, the parent company of Fabris Lane and of Red Hot Sunglasses, a fast-growing web store for premium branded sunglasses launched in 2010. The online retailer added designer frames and prescription lenses to its offer in 2013.
Essilor said that the acquisition of Fabris Lane will give FGX a wider portfolio of licensed brands, such as Karen Millen and French Connection, to service different channels such as department stores, drugstores, pharmacies and travel retail, where Fabris Lane is strong.
Founded 33 years ago by two former managers of Mazzucchelli, Mario Fabris and Rod Lane, Fabris Lane generates annual revenues of around £14 million (€19.0m-$21.3m), down from a level of around £20 million in 2008, when it began to look for an institutional investor.
Its proprietary brands include Freedom Polarised, Monkey Monkey, M:UK and Suuna. Licensed brands in its portfolio include Lipsy, Animal, Kurt Geiger and Oliver Goldsmith (see our issue of Feb. 27). It also has a strong private label business.
The company has its own in-house design capabilities and established supply chain and testing facilities. Rod Lane, who bought out Mario Fabris' shares in 2006, will act as a consultant to FGX until August.
In 2011, the company had put out a statement indicating that it was looking at purchasing an established optical distribution business to boost its operations. It was claiming at the time to be the largest supplier of medium-priced sunglasses in the country, shipping around five million pairs of sunglasses and optical frames a year.
Furthermore, Essilor took over during the first quarter a majority stake in Segment, a Brazilian manufacturer and distributor of ophthalmic lenses based in São Paulo with revenues of around €4 million a year. It is described as the leading maker of medium and high-index lenses in the country, with expertise also in lab equipment and low-vision equipment.
In South Korea, Essilor took over Optimax, a long-standing distributor of Chemiglas, a lens manufacturer and partner of the French group.
We have reported in the previous article about Essilor's acquisition of a majority stake in Grupo Vision, a long-standing client of the group in Costa Rica. The transaction took place on April 1, giving Essilor control of a company with a staff of 865 and a turnover of $40 million in 2014.