At Luxottica, a timid organic growth of 0.9 percent at wholesale contrasted with a 4.7 percent increase for retail operations. The management blamed unseasonable weather in some regions of the U.S., but said that the digital initiatives that it unveiled in the first quarter are expected to accelerate the digital transformation of the sector.
It mentioned in particular a further evolution of its STARS program, which offers a higher degree of customization for clients. The program has been extended to more than 1,000 new doors in the last 12 months, particularly in Europe and Brazil.
On the other hand, Luxottica's retail sales accelerated in the first quarter, rising by 4.7 percent at constant exchange rates on a global basis. Excluding e-commerce, which grew at a mid-single-digit rate, driven by Ray-Ban.com and SunglassHut.com, same-store sales went up by 1.7 percent.
In particular, Luxottica's retail operations in Europe, which represent about 9 percent of its total retail turnover, grew by 17.8 percent thanks to strong increases of more than 20 percent at Sunglass Hut and at a high single-digit rate for the Italian chain Salmoiraghi & Viganò. Globally, Sunglass Hut's sales rose by 4.1 percent in local currencies, with strong performance also in Brazil and Southeast Asia.
In North America, a strong performance by LensCrafters and Target Optical largely offset the expected decline at Sears Optical, adverse weather conditions and a shift in the calendar for the Easter holidays, which led to declines at Sunglass Hut and Oakley. At LensCrafters, traffic was down but conversions were up. Luxottica's retail operations in Australia continued to post comparable sales growth in the mid-single digits, following the refurbishment of many stores and the spread of omni-channel operations.