The Italian eyewear manufacturer has decided to give itself a new corporate identity, using the IC Optics trade name and logo to emphasize its concentration on the optical sector, following the recent acquisition of a 50 percent stake by the Gianni Versace fashion house in its own eyewear operations. Family interests own the balance of the shares, and they control the production of toys and other items that previously belonged to the same group and are now managed separately.

IC Optics has two new foreign sales subsidiaries in France and Germany. They are being added to company-owned operations in Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, the USA and Canada. IC Optics has a single logistic apparatus to service its European subsidiaries, which work with their own sales reps and offer comprehensive customer service.

The company's eyewear sales grew to about 100 billion lire (e50m) in 1999 from 90 billion lire in 1998, and the management is going for a 20 percent increase in 2000. IC Optics is spending 15 percent of sales on marketing, in a bid to double sales to over 200 billion lire (e100m) by 2002 and thus introduce the company on the stock exchange.

IC Optics continues to distribute eyeglasses signed by Versace, Gai Matiolo and Cesare Paciotti. The management stresses that Versace's financial involvement leaves it free to sign new licensing agreements. The latest one has been signed with Benetton Group, which has granted to IC Optics a medium-term licence for sports sunglasses bearing its own Nordica, Rollerblade, Prince, Kästle and PlayLife brand names.

The new lines will be priced in the medium-upper range. They will be shown first at the Mido fair in Milan next May. Benetton's licensing manager, Fernando Flisi, concluded the contract after lengthy negotiations with various potential suppliers, securing strong financial guarantees. Filos Group, another Italian eyewear firm in which the Benetton family has a financial stake, continues to license the more casual United Colors of Benetton, Sisley and 001 lines of eyewear.