Luxottica reiterated that it continues to monitor possible acquisitions. Massimo Vian, the group's chief executive, said that the focus is on opportunities to bolster the distribution network. He added that there are no talks regarding possible tie-ups with Essilor or Zeiss.
Separately, the group's chairman, Leonardo Del Vecchio, noted that Luxottica is investing over €500 million a year on improving its technological platform and on store openings. “That is the acquisition we are doing right now,” he said, adding that “in any case there aren't that many acquisitions out there.”
Del Vecchio, who is also the founder and main shareholder of Luxottica, stressed that priority is being given to innovation and new stores and that acquisitions are going to be done only “if they help. But if they distract us from reaching perfection, we aren't interested.” Luxottica is a huge cash generator and has traditionally been active in acquisitions.
Observers have been curious about whether the company will resume a significant acquisition campaign after having deleveraged its balance sheet to record lows. Speculation about a merger with Essilor has been a sea serpent re-emerging regularly over the past months.
The speculation was fueled by Del Vecchio's recent statement about investments in lenses. Luxottica said last week that it has started the construction of three new laboratories for the production of ophthalmic lenses. They are situated within some of its distribution centers to improve support to its retail network.
Luxottica produces its lenses in-house, but uses third-party suppliers about eight weeks a year to cover peak U.S. demand in March and in August/September. The group is expanding lens manufacturing to process more items internally in North America and to support the 500-odd new LensCrafters stores scheduled to be opened in Macy's locations.