NAU is a new Italian company, established in 2005 by former managers of Randazzo and Salmoiraghi & Vigano, that is viewed as the first attempt to introduce in Italy a pure franchising formula that has already been widely adopted in other European countries. The company broke more or less even last year and its network is expected to rise from six to 15-20 stores by the end of this year.

The franchisee opens his or her own store under the NAU banner, to sell eyewear and other optical products designed and sourced by NAU. Production is done by Italian companies and contract manufacturers outside Italy that also produce for major brands. The concept is cheap and chic: the eyewear compares in quality with the top brands but prices are lower.

NAU has undertaken an interesting initiative to support the launch of the new formula, striking an agreement with a major Italian environmental organization, Legambiente, to produce recycled plastic frames. The glasses will be sold in NAU stores and in the harbors visited by Goletta Verde, a well-known boat that analyzes the quality of the water along the Italian coast. Part of the profits will go toward financing this and other activities of Legambiente.