HAL Holding announced yesterday an agreement to acquire an 88 percent controlling interest in Rotter y Krauss, which is described as the leading optical retail chain in Chile by far. With sales of approximately €32 million in 2007 and 600 employees, it operates 43 directly owned stores and 89 optical counters in department stores throughout the country.

Conducted through its 100 percent own subsidiary GrandVision, the Chilean investment brings up to 34 the number of countries where the group operates optical stores. In the last few months HAL has announced its entry into seven other new markets - Switzerland, Brazil, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and India.

HAL has also consolidated its position on the U.K. market with the acquisition of G.C. Bateman Group, a family-owned company that operates 75 stores in that country, mostly in Southern England. The British optical retailer, whose history goes back over 100 years, includes some stores trading as Dunscombes Opticians, Horstmanns Opticians, Weston & Grave Optometrists and Kenneth Bird Opticians.

All of Bateman's stores will be renamed as Vision Express, the British banner of GrandVision. This acquisition is being made by GrandVision through Vision Express, which already has 235 stores in the UK and Ireland. Bateman adds about 500 employees and a turnover that reached approximately £22 million (€30m-$43.3m) in 2007.