The British eyewear company has won the Queen's Award for international business after reporting 500 percent growth in its sales of eyewear outside of the UK over the last three years. The award will be given to the company's founders, Robin Totterman and Chris Smith, at Buckingham Palace this July. Totterman is currently the company's chief executive and Smith is chief operating officer.
Company officials indicate that Inspecs' revenues from eyewear reached about €35 million last year. The biggest market is now the USA, where it has a Florida-based subsidiary exclusively devoted to the wholesale business, marketing branded eyewear as well a lot of private label merchandise. Inspects briefly ventured into retailing in the USA a few years ago, but dropped out of it afterwards.
Inspecs' sales in the USA grew by about 70 percent in 2006, thanks to significant volumes with major new clients and to the launch of its eyewear license with NASCAR, a racing league in the USA that boasts about 80 million fans. Inspecs is also introducing now in the USA one of its newest eyewear lines, Vision by Conran, which stems from a collaboration with Sir Terence Conran's design team. Globally, this line has overtaken the French Connection collection as Inspecs' fastest-selling range in 2007.
The other two biggest foreign markets for eyewear are India and Japan. Inspecs, which is also involved in other sectors such as the retailing of clothing in some former Soviet countries and in the development of multi-fuel systems that minimize greenhouse gases from transportation, saw its eyewear sales grow sharply last year in emerging markets like China, India, Russia and Ukraine, where it has set up its own sales offices. The company plans to continue to focus on these kinds of markets. Inspecs also has offices in the UK, the USA, Hong Kong, Scandinavia, France and Japan, as well as production facilities in China, Korea and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the company has been expanding its portfolio of fashion brands, moving into the high fashion and ?pure design? arenas. It is picking up this year BIBA, a British fashion label that has not had its name on eyewear since the brand's initial launch in the 1960s. Inspecs recently signed a 10-year licensing deal with Manish Arora, the first Indian designer to sign an international eyewear deal. The move is in line with the company's desire to capitalize on the growing role of Indians in pop culture, following the win of an Indian actress on ?Celebrity Big Brother,? a popular British reality TV series, as well as Elizabeth Hurley's Indian-British wedding with Arun Nayar.