After reaching a point of stability in the USA, Maui Jim is appointing more directly-employed sales representatives to expand its presence in Europe. The company started selling in Sweden last January, and has recently recruited a sales team for Portugal. A couple of months ago the company appointed some representatives for the Canary Islands, a small but lucrative market.

The U.S. company doesn't work through agents in Europe, where it only uses directly-employed sales representatives. Patrick Malmberg was brought into the company 10 months ago as director of the Nordic countries, but his work with Maui Jim really took off last Fall, when the company began to break into the upscale Synsam group. Based near Stockholm, Malmberg was previously at Luxottica, where he was in charge of the Ray-Ban line for Denmark and Sweden, and also ran its tax-free business for the Nordic countries. Maui Jim is currently looking for sales reps to handle Denmark, Finland and Norway.

The company has also appointed dedicated sales managers to develop sales through duty-free shops at airports. Martine Larroque is now in charge of this business unit for Europe, while Ben Arriola will take care of Asia. For its ?corporate gifts? division, the company has named Elizabeth Stanhope as European director, based in the UK.

Maui Jim has set up a sales office for the Middle East in Dubai, where it has also recently appointed a sales team to cover the entire region. Rafi Shaik, who was previously general manager of an optical chain in the region, called Yateam, was appointed as sales manager for the Middle East about a year ago.

In all of Europe the company has seen its best growth lately in Germany, where the demand for high-end prescription sunglasses is on the rise. Italy and the UK are said to be solid, while sales in Spain just started to pick up steam last January, according to the company's Spanish-based international marketing manager, Martijn van Eerde.

Maui Jim didn't exhibit at the last Vision Expo East in New York, but it did have stands at the recent Expooptica show in Madrid as well as at the Vision X fair in Dubai, plus Optrafair in Birmingham and MIDO in Milan, among others. Last year the company pulled out of all the optical shows in the USA, considering that it has reached maturity in the market.

Instead the company is investing in U.S. consumer-level events like fishing tournaments. Perhaps the most important development in the country is a new lab in Illinois that started up earlier this month, specializing in making prescription lenses for sports ranges. It will shortly be in a position to process Maui Jim's new ?Evolution? lens, which is said to be using ?secret? materials that provide a level of visual quality close to that of glass and a resistance close to polycarbonate.

The company is investing into some grass-roots events also in Europe while it expands its retail presence in the area. Maui Jim will sponsor horse races in the UK and tennis matches in Spain, for example.