SILMO is becoming more and more of a must at the international level. The number of visitors increased by 5.6 percent at last October's show to 42,759, as compared to one year ago, with foreign attendance up 6.8 percent to 20,489 people. Without reaching MIDO's proportions, the total net exhibition area at SILMO has risen by 6 percent to 35,737 square meters, and 68 percent of the 1,003 brands represented is not French.

All in all, this year's SILMO received a lot of praise for an excellent business climate, a nice exhibition of trends in sunglass colors and design, and a magnificent soirée for the Silmo d'Or awards. The winning companies were Zenka, Medas, Telesensory, Essilor, Johnson & Johnson, Hoya, Aspex, Logo, Mrekus T, Nico, Gold & Wood, JF Rey and Theo.

However, several companies in Hall 2 complained that the temperature was very hot during the trade show on the first two days, making it uncomfortable for business meetings. A few companies in Hall 1 were outright furious about an unusually high series of thefts.

All trade shows have their share of theft, including MIDO in Milan. But thieves had a field day at the recent SILMO show in Paris, going as far as totally emptying one stand in spite of the fact that the collection was locked up in the room behind the booth. The victims suspect the existence of a criminal organization to which one or more of the cleaning staff may belong. Taking advantage of the scarcity of security guards and of a video inspection system like the one installed in the Milan exhibition center, the members of the gang may have been working on the orders of a rival company. Admitting that the case is extremely worrying, fair organizers have announced that for the next session they will propose to the exhibitors a securely guarded area in which they can deposit their collections at the end of each day.

One of the hardest hit was Lancaster Italy of Bari. In the night of Oct. 21-22, preceding the opening day of the show, all the company's collections were stolen, worth €30,000. The merchandise was locked up in the room behind the booth, but the thieves climbed over the partition. Lancaster consequently began the show with not a single pair of glasses to show to customers, in the hope that a new collection would arrive the following day, thus losing not only the collection but also a whole day's business.

LS Optical, an Italian company based in Carsoli, had a similar problem with the theft of their Seventy and Simpson collections sunglasses for adults and children, and a few other very special sunglass models ? a total of 200 items worth €7,000. The company was consequently unable to show the collection to a Greek customer, resulting in the loss of a potential €100,000 order. On top of everything, LS Optical was afraid that it could not prove the theft took place after midnight on the 21st, making it ineligible for the insurance which starts up on the first day of the fair.

Another Italian company, Alvea, reportedly got diamond-encrusted eyewear worth a total of €50,000 stolen from its stand at SILMO. Yet another targeted theft, almost certainly commissioned by a rival, was suffered by Immagine Eyewear from the Cadore region of Italy, which sells 40 percent of its production in Italy, 30 percent in Europe and the remainder in the Far East. On the same night, thieves stole 149 items of X-Ice prescription and sun eyewear for a total of €6,000. The theft concerned 89 percent of the collection, as the thieves spared the models that had already been showcased at MIDO. X-Ice generates annual sales of €2 million, including €1 million in the USA, where the company also supplies private label collections for local companies.

The victims were not all Italian. Chopard suffered a theft not so long ago. This time members of a French company, First Optic, based in Créteil found that the door to the room behind the booth had been broken, and at least 250 pairs frames covered in python leather were missing, along with certain folding models or other particularly valuable items. The company has been assured that the loss will be covered by the insurance policy, but the management wonders how thieves were able to get away through the halls with two large boxes full of merchandise without the security guards noticing anything.

SILMO's organizers have duly referred all the cases to the police station responsible for the Paris district in which the fairgrounds are located, as the police authorities don't have an office at the fair like in Milan. They are asking the exhibitors to be more vigilant during the set-up stage, as many exhibitors stay late fixing up their booths the night before the show starts, suggesting that they may want to hire their own security guard. There is in fact some suspicion the thieves may be among the exhibitors themselves.