Optic 2000 and Lissac, which completed their cross-shareholding agreement just before Christmas, are looking at the establishment of network of more than 1,400 optical stores in France by 2006, with retail sales of over €800 million a year. The Optic 2000 cooperative itself would reach by then revenues of more than €320 million, including €100 generated by the Lissac banner alone through a network of about 200 corporate and franchised stores.

In 2003, Optic 2000 had revenues of €220 million. The 1,277 stores affiliated with the group had sales of €574 million, including 910 doors carrying the Optic 2000 banner in France and 37 in Switzerland. A survey of retail members shows that they raised theirs sales by about 7.25 percent on a same-store basis, doing much better than the market.

Optic 2000 and Lissac have decided to spend €2.1 million on advertising this year to boost the image of Lissac, the oldest optical retail chain in France, to help its 28 franchisees and to attract about 50 more within one year's time. Some of them will be retail members of Optic 2000 who want to trade under a different banner nearby. The campaign will also benefit Lissac's 30 company-owned stores, which are being renovated.

The final deal between Optic 2000 and Lissac, whose financial terms have been kept secret, gives Optic 2000 a 70 percent stake in Lissac Enseigne, the store franchising company, and a 30 percent stake in Frères Lissac, the company that runs the corporate stores. Evelyne Lissac is selling 20 percent of Frères Lissac and his sister Anne-Marie Darnaud, who had prevented a deal with Alain Afflelou a few years ago, is selling her remaining 10 percent interest. Under the agreement, Optic 2000 will take over all the shares in the two firms in 5 years' time.

Evelyne Lissac, who lost her husband in 1997 and is now 60 years old, is selling out to ensure the future development of the 85-year-old banner and in view of the growing concentration of the French optical retain market, including Guildinvest's recent acquisition of the Lynx Optique chain. For Optic 2000, which doesn't own any stores, the Lissac banner gives its retail member and alternative tool of expansion, with a different market positioning that will be clarified shortly. About 50 new Lissac stores should be added annually to its network. The integration of Lissac will also give more purchasing power to Zéphyr, the common buying platform between Optic 2000 and GrandVision, which already commands about 25 percent of the French optical market.