The revenues of the Italian eyewear industry collapsed by 13.3 percent to €2.251 billion in 2009, mainly because of the economic crisis. The number of workers in the industry shrank to 16,600 from 17,500 in 2008 and the number of companies fell to 950 from 1,005.

Exports decreased by 13.6 percent to €1.902 billion, led by sunglasses, which were down by 14.8 percent to €1.214 billion. Exports of frames fell by 12.5 percent to €635.9 million and those of ophthalmic lenses rose by 4.4 percent to €52.4 million.

At its pre-Mido conference, the Italian eyewear association Anfao said the trend improved in the course of the year with the decline in overall exports narrowing from 23.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009 to 4.5 percent in the last one. The opening months of 2010 seem to have confirmed the improvement, it added.

Anfao pointed out that exports to three promising emerging economies, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil, dropped by 48.8 percent, by 24.4 percent and by 3.8 percent respectively. Meanwhile, sales to France rose by 3.5 percent and exports to Portugal increased by 6.4 percent.

Sales by Italian eyewear companies in the domestic market were down by 7.2 percent to €987.6 million. In the meantime, eyewear imports into Italy slipped by 6.4 percent to €638.6 million.