Safilo sees a big potential for expansion in sunglasses, which last year represented only 34 percent of its total turnover. The Italian firm wants to replicate in this sector the success it has enjoyed in sports eyewear, where it will reach a turnover of 100 billion Lire (e100m-$100m) this year through the Carrera and Smith brands.

Following the strategy used to relaunch these two brands within the sports market after their 1997 acquisition, Safilo is completely rethinking the Carrera collection of sunglasses, and it plans to invest 15 percent of expected turnover in this sector. Following a contest among the world's leading advertising agencies, the promotion of the new collection has been awarded to Young & Rubicam. The medium term objective is to push annual sales of non-sports Carrera sunglasses up to one million units by the year 2002.

The new sunglass project, dubbed as ?Carrera 2000,? has been assigned to a taskforce led by the group's marketing director, Giorgio Rizzo, who launched the Safilo sports operation. In the USA, the project is led by Claudio Gottardi.

A new collection of completely updated Carrera sunglasses will be coming out in January, using mainly Safilo's own sales network fo rprescription eyewear. Another channel is represented by the distributors of the more or less technical Carrera Sport sports products, handled by specialist retailers in 30 countries. The third channel will comprise duty-free outlets and large department stores.

Apart from sports, the Carrera brand also has a presence in the prescription eyewear sector where it already enjoys a high technical and quality profile. Recently, Carrera's eyeglass collection was enriched by the addition of the patented Calibra system of elongated arms for the frames. Total frame production at the Carrera factories in Austria and Slovenia, which were bought together with the trademark two years ago, has been increased to handle also other collections sold by the Italian group.

A January market introduction is still planned for Safilo's new Fossil line of glasses, based on a licensing agreement signed in September with an important Texan watch manufacturer that had a turnover of $290 million (e288m) in 1998. It will help consolidate US sales that already represent 42 percent of Safilo's turnover.

Without providing profit or loss figures, the Italian group confirmed a positive sales trend during the 3rd quarter with a growth of 17.3 percent to 226.9 billion lire (e117.2m-$118m) for the period, ended Sept. 30. The turnover for the first 9 months has thus reached 734 billion lire (e379m-$381m), or 13 percent up on the same period of 1998. Operating profits have risen by 22.9 percent to 99.9 billion lire (e51.6m-$52m). Net profits are up by 43 percent to 51.1 billion lire (e26.4m-$26.6m). Debt has been reduced from 2.3 to 1.7 percent of total turnover.