The board of directors scheduled for July 27 is expected to endorse a proposal to appoint a brilliant 38-year-old manager, Andrea Guerra, as the new chief executive officer of Luxottica Group. Technically, he will replace Roberto Chemello, but he will have extended responsibilities, reporting to the group's chairman, Leonardo Del Vecchio, who turned 69 years old last May.

The move is regarded as an important step in Del Vecchio's program to take a certain distance from the day-to-day management of the group that he established from scratch 43 years ago. A similar policy has been followed by other Italian entrepreneurs, like Luciano Benetton or Vittorio Merloni, who have chosen to limit their roles to mapping out the strategies of the companies controlled by their families and to corporate governance, delegating other functions to professional managers. Del Vecchio has already indicated to the Italian press that none of his six children will have a managerial role in Luxottica and that the new management will have a minority stake in the group.

After acting as marketing director of Marriott Italia, Guerra has been running for the past four years Merloni Elettrodomestici, turning it into the third-largest supplier of so-called white goods - refrigerators and other electrical home furnishings - in Europe, with a strongly improved financial performance. Luxottica says Chemello will keep his seat on the company's board of directors and continue to work for the group. According to reports, he may leave it after a transition period to join the Versace fashion house, of which Del Vecchio is a director.

Guerra's appointment gave an additional push to Luxottica's stock market quotation, which had already been boosted by the announcement of a new license for Donna Karan and DKNY eyewear (see below). At Luxottica's annual meeting last month, Del Vecchio felt confident that it will climb above €15 from a range around €13 in the last few months. Noting that the group's wholesale business rose by 9 percent in the first 5 months of this year, he predicted that the 6-month results due to be announced on July 27 will show an overall sales increase of about 7.9 percent in euros, including retail operations.