Safilo has stopped its loss-making retail activities, selling off its Solstice chain in the U.S., but the Marcolin Group has reportedly warmed to the idea of owning a retail activity, following the examples of Luxottica and De Rigo Vision. With the planned takeover of GrandVision by EssilorLuxottica, the verticalization of the eyewear industry is apparently becoming an important topic again.

In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Marcolin's chief executive, Massimo Renon, said the group has realized that there are “opportunities, not necessarily on a global level,” in having a retailing activity. So, in contrast with a “never in retail” dogma of five years ago, the company is saying “why not” and making evaluations, he added.

Renon noted that the consolidation of the eyewear industry started after the phenomenon hit other sectors such as pharmaceuticals, automobiles and retailing. Like everybody else, Marcolin is pondering new acquisitions, as it did with the takeover of the former Viva International in 2013. But, according to the Italian executive, not all aggregations are positive and only the combination of complementary players creates value.

Marcolin is expected to post slightly higher sales this year at constant currency rates, maintaining its profitability, Renon added. In 2018, the company posted sales of €482 million, generating an Ebitda margin of 11.7 percent. He noted that the Tom Ford license, which Marcolin holds until 2029, has been enjoying double-digit growth for the past 15 years.

As previously reported, Marcolin has been signing many new licenses (EWI Vol. 20 N° 13+14 of Nov. 4, 2011), instead of developing proprietary brands like Safilo. One of the latest deals is a global five-year partnership for sunglasses and prescription frames with an emerging Italian brand of streetwear, GCDS, founded in Milan in 2015. Another new one is a five-year global licensing contract for sunglasses and prescription frames under the BMW, BMW M and BMW M Motorsports labels.