Marchon Eyewear is almost certain to reach the milestone of one billion dollars in sales this year, further consolidating its position as the third-largest player in the global market for prescription frames and sunglasses. It would have broken the $1 billion barrier in 2014 if the dollar had not appreciated as it did toward the end of the year. Claudio Gottardi, president and chief executive of the American company, reported a turnover of $979 million for 2014, up by 10.4 percent at current exchange rates, and predicted that it will by around 7 percent in constant currencies in 2015.
Marchon's sales went up last year by 7 percent in value as well as volume in North America, where the market grew by an estimated one percent. Sales were flat in Italy, but they rose by around 15 percent in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company performed particularly well in the U.K. and other parts of Northern Europe as well as in the Middle East. It went better in France than in Germany. It grew strongly in Asia and other parts of the world.
Gottardi pointed out that all of the company's new lines – especially Salvatore Ferragamo, Chloé and Lacoste – booked sales increases of between 15 and 30 percent as compared to 2013. Marchon will soon announce the launch of new collections and the renewal of some important licensing agreements, he added.
The company has set up a new sales subsidiary in China and is finalizing the takeover of the share it has in a joint venture for the markets in the Gulf states. Its business in Asia is expected to get a big lift from Marchon's recently signing of new licensing deals for Etro and MCM, two brands that are well known in that part of the world. MCM, a German brand of handbags and luggage run by a former top executive of Giorgio Armani, is already generating sales of around $50 million in Asia and is expected to reach a total turnover of $2 billion in a few years' time.
Adding also eye care insurance and other activities, VSP Global, the non-profit group to which Marchon belongs, booked an increase of about 8 percent in its total revenues to around $4.5 billion in 2014.
There is unconfirmed speculation that VSP is interested in a possible takeover of Carl Zeiss Vision.
VSP continues to work with Google on the development of Google Glass. With a team of more than 40 researchers in Sacramento, California, the group is also involved in other projects with Apple, Microsoft and other partners in the areas of biometrics, health and communication, including a Fitbit application that would alert the driver that he or she is falling asleep by tracking eye movement.
As previously reported, Marchon is investing in the expansion of its production capacity in Italy in response to market demand and rising labor costs in China. It plans to install new and faster laser-controlled technologies to make acetate frames by the end of this year at its Italian facilities. According to Gottardi, additional benefits will be derived from leaner manufacturing processes and faster time to market.