Fresh off its failed bid for Cole National, and reportedly hoping to conclude a different deal in the retail business within the next three months, Moulin International announced that sales for the six months ended June 30 increased by 13.7 percent to HK$685.7 million (€71.5m-$87.9m). The revenue increase was attributed to the consolidation of NiGuRa, the German-based company acquired from Rodenstock, and to organic growth in other segments.

Net earnings dipped by 27.6 percent to HK$60.2 million (€6.3m-S$7.7m), mainly due to one-off expenses in the attempt to purchase Cole.

Wholesale distribution accounted for 78 percent of turnover. In Europe, warehouse operations in Stuttgart and the Czech Republic were combined, and management operations were consolidated at NiGuRa's office in Dusseldorf. The German government's decision to curb subsidies for eyewear hurt Moulin. The group remained one of the top five sellers in Italy. Sales gains were recorded in Austria (up 20 percent), Czech Republic (40 percent) and Slovakia (26 percent), thanks to United Colors of Benetton, Sisley and Revlon. In North America, the group attracted unspecified new chain retailer. Japan paced the increase in Asia Pacific, where the group launched Longines in Hong Kong.

On a geographical basis, revenues increased by 47 percent in Europe to HK$226.3 million (€23.6m-$29m) and by 67 percent in the Asia-Pacific region to HK$95.3 million (€9.9m-$12.2m), more than offsetting declines of 9 percent in North America to HK$231.0 million (€24.1m-$29.6m) and of 5 percent in China to HK$132.0 million (€13.8m-$16.9m). The decline in China resulted from a shift to focusing on international brands, whose distribution rose by 25 percent. Reebok, United Colors of Benetton and Longines were launched and ?well-received? in the period.

Shanghai Moulin's chain of optical stores, America's Eyes, now has 50 fully owned locations, against 34 at the end of 2003, and seven franchised outlets. Same-store sales increased by 25 percent, and four or five new stores will open by the end of the year. The ODM/OEM business contributed 15 percent of turnover. Moulin says it is in negotiations with several ?renowned fashion labels? in the USA and Europe.

The group is working on a new research, development and production facility in Shenzhen with an eye to transferring the group's European manufacturing technologies to China. Meanwhile, the group has appointed a property manager, So Kwan Hon, as an independent non-executive director.