Essilor and Luxottica have launched their first joint product with the latest edition of Ray-Ban Authentic. It will be launched in the U.S. on Jan. 19.
According to EssilorLuxottica, the group resulting from the merger between the French ophthalmic lens producer and the Italian frame maker on Oct.1, 2018, the product represents the “perfect match of Ray-Ban’s legendary style and Essilor’s expertise in sight.” Ray-Ban is owned by Luxottica. The group stated that the “key innovation” was the ability to offer premium and lightweight lenses that adapt to Ray-Ban’s frame.
The new edition will offer over 1,400 lens and frame combinations to customers, including those featuring Transitions technology with photochromic lenses and blue light filtering. It will also include a Special Edition, enhanced with Essilor’s lens solutions such as Varilux, Eyezen and Crizal.
“This is a product offering that will help shape the market for years to come,” said Fabrizio Uguzzoni, president of Luxottica Wholesale North America in a statement.
The announcement is emblematic because the integration of the two companies has long been underway and EssilorLuxottica is likely to undergo significant governance changes this year. Since the merger, EssilorLuxottica has been suffering from friction between blocs formed around Essilor and Luxottica’s managements.
In December 2020, the group announced a transition at the helm as the chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio and deputy chairman Hubert Sagnières relinquished their executive powers and appointed Francesco Milleri as CEO and Paul du Saillant deputy CEO of the group.
The appointment of Milleri, who is deputy chairman and CEO of Luxottica, is seen as a victory for Del Vecchio, who had been pushing his protégé to run the group. The current management structure will remain in place at least until the appointment of the new board of directors by shareholders at this year’s annual general meeting scheduled for May.
The official reason for the management change is Sagnières’ desire to retire and the stopgap solution maintains the agreed balance of power between the French and Italian sides in the company. For many observers, however, it is seen as Sagnières surrendering to Del Vecchio.
This year, Del Vecchio will regain all his voting rights in EssilorLuxottica, of which he is the main shareholder, and could overhaul the company’s governance and put an end to the power sharing structure between the two teams. Del Vecchio’s voting rights had been temporarily trimmed to guarantee the balance of power.
The group will also have to decide in the coming months whether to proceed with the planned €7.2 billion euros acquisition of GrandVision after EssilorLuxottica accused the Dutch company of allegedly breaching its obligations set in the takeover agreement.