The French optical retail group's management sticks to its forecast of significantly higher earnings for this year following higher-than-expected sales results in the 1st quarter of 2002. GrandVision's total sales grew by 6.5 percent to e149 million in the period, with particularly strong performance in France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

In France, the group's higher-end GrandOptical chain, which now has 68 outlets, or 1 more than one year ago, raised its sales by 6 percent to e38 million, with a 5 percent growth on a comparable store basis. The 117-store Générale d'Optique chain continued its progress with sales increases of 6 percent in absolute and comparable terms to e31 million.

In the UK and Ireland, where the market is said to be dull, the group's revenues were up by only 3 percent to e58 million, or flat on a same-store basis, for its network of 58 company-owned Vision Express stores, including their Optical Lab variant. The group experienced higher sales on a comparable basis elsewhere in Europe, except in Spain and Portugal, due in part to a lower number of tourists because of the Argentinian crisis. The Italian GrandOptical chain, which now has 27 stores, registered a 27 percent sales increase to e6 million.

The return of tourists to France and Italy boosted sales at the group's chain of 25 Solaris sunglass stores, whose sales grew in the quarter by 28 percent to e5 million.