Safilo continues to reorganize its senior management, following the return of Roberto Vedovotto at its helm late last year. The major new change has been the replacement of Claudio Gottardi as head of the company's American operations with James Ross Brownlee. Brownlee has spent 12 years with the Safilo group, working both for its wholesale and retail activities.

Gottardi resigned to pursue new professional opportunities, according to Safilo. He successfully ran Safilo's American operations for many years, had been the group's chief executive from July 2006 to June 2008. After stepping down from the job he remained president and CEO of Safilo USA and board director of Safilo until November.

Safilo has also appointed Nicola Zotta as head of the Asian market. Zotta has been with the company for 10 years, working in European markets such as France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The two managers will report to the group's chief operating officer, Mario Pietribiasi, who was previously responsible for the group's Asian operations and was appointed to the new job in October.

The company has also hired Dario Bassetti as director of marketing and licensing. Bassetti comes from the household appliance company Indesit, where he was chief marketing officer. He previously worked for Unilever, PepsiCo and the confectioner Ferrero.

The appointments come after Massimiliano Tabacchi unexpectedly announced in November that he would leave the job of group CEO to Vedovotto, who held that position between 2002 and 2004. At the same time, the group said that it had posted a net loss of €6.7 million in the third quarter and issued a profit warning for the full year.

A further overhaul of the senior management was largely expected after the group was forced to renegotiate its banking covenants when debt exploded to nearly €567 million at the end of September. It is estimated to have reached €580-590 million at the end of 2008.