Alain Afflelou is under investigation by the French tax authorities, which are claiming payment of some €34 million in back taxes related to the results of an international trading company of the country's largest franchising group in the sector, which is registered in Luxembourg. Like some other purchasing organizations in the sector, it has its operational base in Switzerland.

In the six months ended last Oct. 30, the group's gross margin improved to 49.1 percent from 48.2 percent in the same period of the previous year. Net income declined by 4 percent to €11.1 million, but net income from continuing operations was up by 7 percent to €13.2 million. As previously reported, revenues increased by 6 percent to €69.4 million during the period.

By next Apr. 30, which will mark the end of its current financial year, Alain Afflelou will double to 50 the number of franchised stores under its new banner, Plurielles, which has been renamed as Plurielles d'Afflelou for greater impact. It will also add another 25 Alain Afflelou shops, raising their total count to 780 units.

Afflelou has also struck a pact with Carl Zeiss Vision to carry a range of AO Sola Zeiss lenses on a licensing basis. In the area of sunglasses and frames, it is licensing a strong French brand of activewear called Airness, as well as several brands of children's glasses named after various French TV programs aired by the TF1 channel.