Luxottica aims to service a total of 17,000 stores operated by wholesale clients in mainland China by 2018 as it builds up its presence in the country. This compares with more than 150,000 wholesale locations currently served by the group worldwide.
The company wants to reach this objective by boosting its Chinese salesforce, currently about 100 people, marketing directly its products to wholesale accounts without passing through distributors.
The group expects to see a significant increase in sales volumes this year in the country after lowering prices by 10-15 percent in an effort to harmonize prices worldwide. In Brazil, the group registered a 60 percent increases in sales volumes when it cut prices by around 30 percent after the purchase of a local producer, Tecnol, which enabled Luxottica to manufacture products locally, avoiding hefty customs duties.
For the time being, China represents only 3 percent of the Luxottica group's total sales, following an increase of 15 percent at constant currency rates in 2015. The bulk of the group's sales in the country are generated by Ray-Ban, prompting it to open Ray-Ban stores in the country.
Luxottica has 290 LensCrafters stores and about 30 Sunglass Hut stores in China, and most of the latter are managed by distributors. It plans to open about 70 Sunglass Hut locations this year, two-thirds of which will be franchises.
The group is building a new distribution center in China that will serve the Far East and Southeast Asia. It is due to be completed by the end of the year and is expected to become the group's largest distribution facility in about three years' time.