Rodenstock claims that its market shares increased in both lenses and frames in the depressed German market last year and says its sales rose substantially in all the major foreign markets, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Far East. Total revenues in the core sector of ?spectacles? reached €386 million and all the segments of Rodenstock's business were in the black, but the management declines for the moment to add more specific figures.

The outlook is positive, following the introduction of some interesting new products and the establishment of a more decentralized management structure. Four regional managers are now responsible for sales in various parts of the world ? Germany, the rest of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Asia/Pacific region and the Americas with the exception of the USA, where Rodenstock has licensed its operations. A fifth manager, based in Germany, takes care of international key accounts.

New managers have joined the company recently to implement the new matrix structure, which is intended to boost the foreign component of the turnover. Thomas Beier, who worked previously for Essilor in Eastern Europe, took charge last Dec. 1 of Rodenstock's Western Europe region, the biggest one after Germany. The Eastern European region is supervised since last Fall by Reinhold Zehnter, a former executive of FAG, the big German ball bearing company. On the other hand, Theodor Scherg, who was previously responsible for Rodenstock's relations with its distributors around the world, is taking charge of the Asia/Pacific and Americas region, including the company's own subsidiaries in Australia, Chile and Japan.

According to a market survey, Rodenstock became again the #1 brand of eyewear frames in Germany in 2004, overtaking Silhouette and gaining market share since the 3rd quarter of the year. While its sales in Germany decreased, due to the reform of the public health system, it gained market share also in the area of lenses, reinforcing its #1 position with a share of 27 percent, although the combination of Essilor and Rupp + Hubrach lay higher.

Rodenstock is taking to the rest of Europe its new range of sunglasses, already introduced in Germany last Fall, which has a strong focus on sports applications. It includes photochromic glasses with a strong contrast effect for best performance in the fog or while driving or skiing. Corrective lenses and dirt-repellent coatings for these sunglasses will follow shortly. Among other new products, Rodenstock showed at the Opti München fair last month an interesting new 3D measuring tool to help opticians figure out quickly all the parameters for its individualized vision correction system ? and that of the competition, too.