De Rigo has not reported its earnings for the first half of this year, but its sales figures for the period reflect for the first time its investments on retailing on the Iberian peninsula and the first fruits of its alliance with a powerful fashion partner, Prada. They show a 38.9 percent increase in the group's total turnover to 460 billion lire (e240m-$220m). However, excluding the results of its Spanish optical chain, General Optica, and of the joint venture with Prada, the group's sales grew by a mere 5.1 percent in the 6-month period. At constant currencies, considering that half of the group's sales are in pounds sterling, the group's continuing operations were actually flat.

Eyewear International Distribution (EID), the 51 percent owned joint venture for the distribution of Prada eyewear, generated a turnover of 24.6 billion lire (e12.7m-$11.6m) in the 6-month period, although its sales didn't really start up until March. Anyway, the new venture has made a huge contribution to De Rigo's presence in the USA and other parts of the Americas, where its total sales grew by 40.9 percent, and in the rest of the world outside Europe, where they were up by 21.6 percent.

European sales, which represent 90.2 percent of sales, increased by 40.2 percent, but two-thirds of the increase was due to the consolidation of General Optica chain (GO), which was acquired in February with its 112 outlets in Spain and Portugal. In 5 months, GO brought in 87.4 billion lire's worth of sales, and its sales rose by 8.2 percent on a same-store basis. Without GO and EID, European sales would have risen by 6.1 percent, thanks at least in part to the rising value of the pound sterling.

The company-owned stores of the British Dollond & Aitchison chain, which were 390 at the beginning of 1999, when they were bought by De Rigo, still represent almost half of the group's turnover. They sold glasses and contact lenses for a value of 240.4 billion lire (e124.2m-$113.4m) in the first 6 months of the year, a value which is 9.1 percent higher in De Rigo's books than in the year-ago period. In the local currency, however, D&A's sales dropped by 0.5 percent, due mainly to the fact that 21 former company-owned D&A outlets have been franchised out. Including franchised stores, whose sales rose by 16.2 percent to 59.2 billion lire (e30.6m-$27.9m), the chain's total sales remained practically flat, after a relative boom in 1999.

The half-year results provide a good picture of De Rigo's new corporate structure, composed of three main lines of business: production and wholesale sales, retailing, and EID. At 119.3 billion lire (e61.6m-$56.3m) production and wholesale sales fell from 33.7 to 25.9 percent of total turnover, while retail sales grew from 66.5 to 71.3 percent of total revenues.

The group's total sales of sunglasses increased by 10.1 percent to 2,041,000 units to 66.7 percent of the group's total volume, thanks in part to the new Prada line. Sales of prescription eyewear grew by only 8.8 percent to 1,021,000, declining slightly from 33.6 to 33.3 percent of unit sales.