ProDesign International, the Danish company that two years ago took over two French brands of designer eyeglasses, Face à Face and Woow brands, has renamed itself as the Design Eyewear Group, establishing a clear segmentation of its various product lines and a new, integrated management structure, in order to set the course for future expansion.
Face à Face and Woow previously belonged to a French company called Architectures. Face à Face represents the top of the range, playing on architectural shapes and modern colors and materials. Woow addresses a younger clientele with vibrant and colorful frames, featuring printed statements on two-tone temples.
ProDesign remains a classical line of medium-priced eyewear focusing on functionality, comfort and individual fit. Inface, a more affordable Danish line of frames and sunglasses bought by ProDesign just before the acquisition of Architectures, fills the lower end of the group's brand portfolio. Both ProDesign and Inface stand for timeless, Scandinavian design.
While Face à Face and Woow are manufactured mostly in France and Italy, ProDesign and Inface are made almost exclusively in the Far East.
All four brands are now operating under a single, integrated management led by Lars Flyvholm, a former executive vice president of Bang & Olufsen who was appointed chief executive of the group last summer, taking the place of Dion Eriksen. Managing sales operations for all the brands, Flyvholm works together with Pascal Jaulent, the former creative director of Architectures, who is now chief creative officer of the whole group, and other top managers.
We have already reported on the departure of Nadine Roth, a former collaborator of Jaulent who handled sales and marketing for Architectures.
The new enlarged company has hired a new group marketing director, Charlotte Ellegaard, as well as a new supply chain director, Niels Thygesen. Both join the group with extensive experience from internationally oriented companies in other sectors. The other member of the top management team is the chief financial officer, Rico Hermann, former financial manager of ProDesign.
Flyvholm has hired many new salespeople in various parts of the world to keep the strong sales momentum of the group and move closer to the markets. A team of 70 sales reps is taking care of the four brands of the group all over Europe, reporting either directly to the European sales director, Hans Lilleoer, or to four new country managers for France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain. These four country managers were chosen from the best sales reps, who cover one, two, three or four brands depending on the size of their territory.
The Design Eyewear Group is still recruiting a vice president of sales for North America, a region where ProDesign and Face à Face are both strong, representing 44 percent of group sales in the past year. Based in San Francisco, the group's joint subsidiary hired several new sales reps in 2015. It uses ProDesign's former local warehouse for the logistics. ProDesign, Inface and Woow had a joint stand at the recent International Vision Expo East exhibition in New York, where Woow in particular found many new customers. As in the past, Face à Face had a very successful show in the Loft section of the fair.
As previously reported, last year the company appointed Sebastien Bodennec as head of sales for the Asia-Pacific region, where it has the biggest potential for future development. Flyvholm wants to see the region's share of total sales climb from 6 percent last year to between 8 and 10 percent in the short term, with a focus on important markets like Japan, South Korea and China.
The general sales strategy is to work more closely with selected retailers in established markets, providing more service than before, exploiting cross-selling opportunities for the four different collections only where it may be relevant. In total, the group has 120 sales reps working with more than 15,000 retail accounts. It only uses wholesale distributors in Asia, the Middle East and some Eastern European countries.
Backed by an investment fund that took over its control in 2012, the Danish group prefers to invest in the consolidation of its current assets rather than new acquisitions, unless an interesting opportunity emerges unexpectedly.
The acquisition of Architectures in the course of 2014 helped boost the group's revenues last year to 390.9 million Danish kroner (€52m-$58m) from DKK 294.0 million the year before. The operating profit after amortization (Ebit) increased to DKK 30,282,000 (€4.1m-$4.5m) from DKK 26,148,000, in spite of extraordinary charges related to the acquisitions and the integration process. Net earnings jumped to DKK 23,039,000 (€3.1m-$3.4m) from DKK 15,182,000.
Sales grew in every region, led by the Americas. Flyvholm is predicting another double-digit increase in the turnover and an even higher increase in profits for this year.