Most of Lantis Eyewear's sales of more than $250 million are still generated in the USA. With Tommy Hilfiger and some of its other brands of frames being global in scope, stronger investments in the European market were inevitable. For one thing, Hilfiger recently acquired its former European clothing licensee in Holland, whose sales have been growing steadily, and Lantis, which has been licensing the brand for 10 years, wants to ride on the wave of its growing European notoriety.

Lantis has thus recruited a Dutch executive, Eric Smid, as its new managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He previously spent 16 years with Bausch & Lomb and the last 7 years with Carl Zeiss, where he was most recently responsible for Northwestern and Southern Europe within the consumer optical division.

Working out of a new office and warehouse in Haarlem, Smid replaces in effect Peter Smit, a Dutch optician who had been running Lantis' European business lately. Besides overseeing the Dutch market directly, Smid runs a new team of country managers recently set up in Germany, France, Belgium and the UK, and a growing network of distributors. France and the UK are handled by Laurent Richard and Brian Henry, both of whom previously worked for L'Amy. Hans Penzek, formerly with Allison, is in charge of Germany. A former Buchmann executive, Yves van Borm, covers Belgium.

New distributors are handling the Italian and Spanish markets since January. The new Italian distributor, Da Rold, will host Lantis' European management at its own Tommy Hilfiger stand at next month's Mido, as it was too late for the new European entity to get its own stand at the Milan fair. New distributors were hired in the last few weeks in the Middle East. Smid wants to develop other markets in Northern Europe, Russia and India, among others.

Besides expanding the distribution of Hilfiger eyewear throughout Europe, Smid is now beginning to introduce other brands in Lantis' portfolio in selected European markets, starting with Movado, Nintendo and Oscar de la Renta. Two other brands ? Jones New York and Dockers ? should follow soon.