The Michael Pachleitner Group (MPG), the diversified Austrian optical group, is now looking for partners among the Italian optical chains with which it can collaborate closely, especially as a supplier of lenses from its Schulz laboratory in Germany. Specifically, MPG is interested in possibly acquiring minority shares in family-owned chains that are interested in expanding their operations. Negotiations are currently underway with potential partners and the first contracts are expected to be finalized in the next few months.

Like the Fielmann group, MPG is exploring the Italian market after focusing on the markets of Germany, Austria and Switzerland for its full-service package for opticians, the so-called “360-degree service.” The package consists of six modules that can be ordered separately or mixed according to the optician's demands. One of the service parts consists of the supply of “lenses made in Germany,” including the high-quality MPO range launched in January.

In Italy, the Austrian group is proposing to supply know-how and support in the areas of lenses as well as frames, including its own branded and licensed lines of eyewear. It would provide assistance in logistics, management and marketing.

MPG previously ran an optical retail store in Padua, but it was recently closed down. Giannicola Carrera, a consultant who takes care of the company's projects in Italy, reportedly told the B2eyesToday news service that the store was mainly aimed at testing the Italian market and the expectations of Italian consumers with regard to new players. The test apparently produced plenty of indications on how to go about setting up the envisaged partnerships.

MPG is now considering an investment in Italian retailers to help maximize the benefits of its “360-degree service,” replicating what it did in Germany one and a half years ago by purchasing a minority stake in a chain of 40 stores, Optik Hallmann, which has maintained its own identity and independence. It continues to trade under its own banner.