Marcolin's finances are improving. In the first half of 2000, Italy's 4th largest eyewear company, floated just 12 months ago on the Milan stock exchange, improved slightly its pre-tax earnings to 10,588 million lire (e5.5m-$4.8m). The pre-tax margin thus rose to 8.4 percent of revenues, after dropping from 10.3 to 8.2 percent between the first and second half of 1999,. The group's results are all the more significant insofar as they include a negative contribution from Cébé, aquired in July of 1999, which had losses of 400 million lire (e207m-$182m) on sales of 20 billion lire (e10m-$9m) in the latest 6-month period, but the French company's results should improve in the second half.



Particularly on the export front, sales were boosted by the good performance of the Dolce & Gabbana line. Other major factors were the success of Roberto Cavalli Eyewear and the positive launch of the Fornarina Vision up line.

Cébé's acquisition has helped the company to get higher recognition in the French market, where sales have grew by 39 percent in the period. Exports grew strongly also in Spain (+36%), Germany (+25%), England (+31%) and Belgium (+25%). The American market has proved more disappointing, recording a sales increase of only 7.7 percent to 28 billion lire (e14m-$13m). Marcolin is working on a reorganization of its own US sales operation, formerly a partnership with Marchon, which has a staff of 80, as it still hasn't achieved the expected results.

Meanwhile, the prospect of the single European currency has triggered a movement to realign prices, particularly in the Euro zone, causing a slight drop in prices that is being compensated by higher sales volumes in some high-growth markets. Last May, the group inaugurated a Hong Kong subsidiary that is expected to take advantage of the economic recovery in the Far East and the proximity of China.