Menrad has closed the tool room of its manufacturing facility in Malta, whose staff had been reduced to about 28 people, and transferred most of the equipment to its 6-year-old factory in China, whose production is being gradually expanded as the quality level continues to improve to satisfactory levels. The German company still has a tooling department at its headquarters near Stuttgart. The factory in Malta specializes now in regular metal and titanium frames, and its total staff has been reduced in connection with a transfer of its production of acetate frames to the Chinese plant.

Since its acquisition of Zeiss' optical frame and sunglass operations in 2000, Menrad has closed the latter's manufacturing plant in Hungary, which employed 160 people. It also shut down last year its Irish factory, incurring major costs in laying off its staff of 87 workers. Menrad has now a total staff of 900 people, including 350 in Malta and 270 in China. It also has a small production unit employing 15 persons in Switzerland.

Following this reorganization, the company would have probably gone back to a profit this year on sales of about e50 million if it had not been for the slump in the German optical market, which represents about 40 percent of its turnover, but it's ready to capitalize on the inevitable future rebound. Menrad controls the distribution in various other countries except in Italy, the only one where its sales are relatively weak.

Like other German producers, Menrad is upgrading its product line to position itself at a higher level of the market. In this context, it has decided to discontinue its cheaper Eyeconomy range. Besides Zeiss, it licenses other important brands such as Davidoff, Jaguar, René Lezard and Toni Gard.