Marcolin is consolidating its position in the Russian market via a joint venture with its local distributor. The Italian group signed an agreement with Victoria Chizhova, founder and general manager of Sover-M, a long-standing player on the Russian eyewear market. Marcolin will control 51 percent of Sover-M, which will distribute all the brands in Marcolin's portfolio, including those that were previously in the portfolio of Viva International, which merged into the Italian company at the end of 2013.
Sover-M has a big office, showroom and warehouse in downtown Moscow. It was established in 1994 as a 50-50 joint venture with another Italian eyewear company, Sover, to help it expand in Eastern Europe. Sover went into liquidation last year and its assets are currently being used to satisfy creditors's claims. These include its production facilities and a number of foreign assets, including Sover-M. Marcolin has obtained the control of Sover-M by taking over Sover's previous stake in the company and a share of one percent previously held by Chizhova. The financial conditions of these transactions have not been revealed.
In addition to the brands that Sover was licensing - Laura Biagiotti, Alviero Martini and Mariella Burani – the Russian joint venture originally sold other collections as well. Sover-M has been distributing some of Marcolin's lines, like those of Tom Ford and Roberto Cavalli, as well as some of Viva's collections, such as Guess and Marciano Guess. In 2008 Sover M was granted the exclusive distribution in Russia for Marchon's Fendi, Michael Kors and Emilio Pucci collections, but the deal stopped after the last Mido show in Milan as these licenses had expired and been passed on to others by then.
For the last nine years, Sover-M has also been handling all the production and distribution for a collection of men's and women's sunglasses and frames under the brand of a Russian fashion designer, Valentin Yudashkin, and it will continue to do so. For its part, the former owners of Sover returned to the market earlier this year with new management and a new name, Sover Eyesweb, as we have already reported.
For Marcolin, the Russian partnership is the latest in a series of events that has radically changed the group's development and international strategy in the past two years, since its acquisition by Pai Partners at the end of 2012. After its takeover of Viva a year ago, their respective sales networks have been combined in the important U.S. and U.K. markets. A new joint venture was announced a few weeks ago with the Ginko Group for the Chinese market.
In the meantime, Marcolin has signed new licensing agreements with Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna and Emilio Pucci. Licensing agreements with Skechers and Catherine Deneuve have been renewed. As reported, the year is coming to a close with the acquisition of new 3,500-square-meter production facilities at Longarone, doubling the group's Italian in-house production capacity.