Gatto Astucci, the leading Italian producer of eyewear cases headquartered in Domegge di Cadore, is part of a group by the same name that includes a producer of retail display equipment for optical stores, Gatto Display. The company has now merged with Sarno, another Italian producer of display cases and equipment with a lower sales turnover, based in Lecco specializing in fittings for cosmetics outlets, forming a larger Gatto Astucci Group.

Some 40 percent of the cost of the merger was covered by an exchange of shares, while the remainder was paid in cash. The new company will benefit from synergies in operations, production and sales for retail display systems, which will be grouped into a new unit of the group called Sarno Display. The enlarged group will draw on a broad portfolio of important clients from the optical and cosmetics sectors, including names such as Collistar, Dierre, Luxottica, L'Oreal, Marcolin, Procter & Gamble, Richemont, Safilo, Shiseido and Visibilia.

The new enlarged group is expected to generate a turnover of over €70 million in 2008, with Sarno alone on target to reach sales of €25-26 million. In 2007 Gatto Astucci has sales of about €43 million, the same figure as in the previous year, but disregarding currency fluctuations this would have represented 6 to 7 percent annual growth. The weak dollar also impacted the group's profitability, reducing its operating margin before amortization (EBITDA) by a few percentage points from its high 2006 level of 16.6 percent of revenues.

The transaction was conducted with the assistance of Gatto Astucci's majority shareholder, Fondo Sviluppo Impresa, managed by Centrobanca Sviluppo Impresa Sgr, which acquired 61 percent of the group's equity from its original owners, the De Silvestro family, at the end of 2006. The De Silvestros retained 20 percent of the remaining 39 percent, while the other 19 percent went to a pool of financial investors managed by the Austrian group LP&P. Fabrizio De Silvestro, chief executive of Gatto Astucci, will preside over the new Gatto Astucci Group, while Renato Nobili will run Sarno Display.

The new group has manufacturing facilities in Italy, Croatia and China, with warehouses and logistic platforms in Italy, China and the USA. It will have 3 major design and R&D centers in Italy, each one specialized in a different product sector. A well-known creative and styling studio in Milan ? Think D-Sign, run by Andrea Barbieri - will also be integrated into the group.