Rodenstock's revenues from its own core business of lenses and frames rose by 3 percent to e368 million last year, but because of divestitures and other structural changes, its total sales dropped by 14 percent to e422 million. Due to exceptional charges which should not occur again this year, the German group recorded a somewhat unexpected net loss of e19 million in 2001, as compared to net income of e2.6 million the year before.

Results should improve substantially in 2002, in spite of the difficult market situation in Germany. In the first 4 months of this year, sales of lenses and frames were slightly above year-ago levels. The management is considering changing the group's corporate structure to make it suitable for the stock market, but no date has been set for the public offering.

Temporary losses occurred last year at Rodenstock North America, which completed its reorganization, and at the Docter Optics subsidiary. Rodenstock North America's losses were higher than expected, it didn't quite reach its sales goals. Excluding these items, the group's operating income improved. The group's total staff continued to dropped and reached 5,828 persons last Dec. 31, as compared to 6,295 a year earlier, and it's being cut back further. The German staff was down from 2,919 to 2,855 persons.

Rodenstock maintained its leadership in lenses and frames on the German market. According to the GfK panel, its market share in lenses slipped slightly to 30 percent from 32 percent in the previous year, but its market share in ophthalmic frames rose from 9.4 to 10.2 percent. The Rodenstock brand itself gained one percentage point to become the single strongest brand on the German market, with a 5.9 percent share.

To strengthen its core business, Rodenstock acquired the 15-store P.G. Allder chain in the UK last October, as previously reported. It also took over the distribution in Japan and launched new lines under the Porsche and Reebok brand names. The Porsche collection has been particularly successful.